Œuvre composée en 1989, réorchestrée en 2009 et révisée en 2010. Percussion includes: Small Triangle, Cymbal, Bell Tree, Guiro, Ratchet, Vibraslap Percussion II: Medium and Large Tam-Tam, Snare Drum, Small Tom-Tom (18"), Tenor Drum (24"), Bass Drum I (32"), Bass Drum II (36") Percussion III (doubles timpani): Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Marimba, Timpani
Work submitted to CMC Quebec -- Oeuvre déposée au CMC Québec
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In writing a work for large orchestra, the main problem that presented itself was such: that for all the twentieth century techniques that deal with material (i.e. structure or pitch classes), for the most part we are stuck with the same timbres. Admittedly, composers such as Bela Bartok, Gyorgy Ligeti, and George Crumb have made much progress in the use of instruments and instrumentation. However, apart from some accepted new ways of employing instruments, a romantic size orchestra in our times still sounds, to my ears, like a romantic size orchestra. I felt that trying to change this fact was a bit like trying to alter the universe, so instead of attempting to invent a “new” sound, I aimed to highlight the similarity of acoustic sounds between twentieth century and late romantic material (please note that this work was written in the 20th century!). The work is an ABA1 structure, the first section being, to my knowledge, an invention of my own: namely, “Pan-Tonal Phase Music.” This section uses antiphonal orchestral choirs and alternating pulses (similarly employed in Steve Reich’s “The Desert Music”) but with non-centered sound instead of diatonicism. After a climax, this is contrasted by an example of Ligeti’s micropolyphony (as employed in his “Atmospheres”) and then is contrasted by a pastiche of Gustav Mahler (the B section). Mahler is then parodied through interruptions, truncation, excessive silences and exaggerated increases in tempo. The pastiche fades into a quotation from Mahler’s 5th symphony, Brahms’ 4th symphony, Beethoven’s 7th, Mozart’s 39th, and Haydn’s 104th, one after the other, similar to the splicing effect in analog tape music (and further highlighting the similarity in orchestral timbre over the centuries). This is not the first occurrence of this material. The harmonies that are employed against the pulsating string figures in the A section are mostly derived from the Mahler 5th symphony extract, although there are also occurrences derived from the other quotations as well. All the quoted material in the A section is unrecognisable. However, the Mahler 5th symphony quotation becomes a more obvious appendage to the orchestral fabric towards the end of the B section. Following this, the work resumes with the micropholyphony of the A section and then there is a retrograde of the opening material of the A section. As a coda, the Mahler quotation again resurfaces and then disappears in a dissonant cacophony.