The Year of the Dragon 

1 Toccata

This should be played with ‘malice’. The side drum should be as loud as possible at the starts and rhythms should drive forward with accents firmly made. At C the various components of the legato theme should be carefully balanced. At E the music needs to dance along in contrast to what has gone before; the markings are an indication of how the phrasing should be grouped. Be carefully that the low brass do not drag F; the tempo of the whole movement may depend on how the cope with this passage. From G onwards the movement should fade to nothing.

2 Interlude

Start with some movement in the music and slow the ‘Lento’. 1st alto sax can take the solo if there is no english horn available and it should be played with flexibility but not too slowly. A bass clarinet with an extension to low C is a help there but not essential. H should only be slightly faster. Listen carefully for balance and intonation at J and try to attain a real ‘ppp’. From here to the first bar on page 34 there should be a noticeable, but not abrupt, increase in tempo. Lead into the Finale without a break.

3 Finale

To create excitement, this should be played as fast as possible without inducing a scramble. Make sure that the chosen tempo is strictly maintained and does not vary with player’s abilities to play the notes. Rehearsals will probably benefit from playing under tempo in the initial stages to secure good rhythm. Make sure the Horns only play ‘poco sfp’ after P. Bells* and Glockenspiel at S should blend together into a distant ‘jangle’ without any one instrument being prominent. Bassoon and clarinets should sound like distant fanfares. Balance maybe a problem from 8th bar of X - the percussion should be exuberant without completely drowning the rest of the band. The final drumbeat should sound like the Gates of Hades closing.

*The term ‘Bells’ is used in its English sense, i.e. ‘Tubular Bells’ or ‘Chimes’.