Sarasota, Florida, USA, 18th July 2015
Jan Junker, piccolo Jesse Martins, piano
For many years, piccolo player Jan Junker has asked me to write a piece for his instrument. Finally, the stars aligned – the time and inspiration appeared. The result is Altitude, a short virtuosic composition for the fleetest of all the musical instruments.
Immediately, a rush of rapid repeated running passages signals the overall breathless quality of the piece. These passages eventually condense into a unison pitch in a short
exploration of musical material with fast, mechanistic repeated notes.
After the surge of activity of the opening section, the piece called out for longer lyrical lines which ascend over active chords in the piano. However, Altitude does not stay in this more reflective state, but rather eventually emerges into a sequence of repeating and rising trills which build momentum into the final flurry of rapid running passages. This ending is a development and extension of the activity which opened the piece.
I wanted to make this, my first work for piccolo, virtuosic and I inadvertently chose some tempi that were verging on the impossible. Fortunately, Jan was assiduous in his work with me, helping me to tweak some of the passages and making some suggestions about tempi. The resulting piece for this nimble, agile instrument is a work that is exuberant, colourful, and virtuosic.