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Chamber Concerto
for 17 players
 
Year: 1999
 
Duration: 16'
 
First Performance: 17 April 2000 Manhattan School of Music; New York, NY
The Claremont Ensemble; Glen Barton Cortese, conductor
 
Orchestration:
1 (=picc).1.1.1. - 2.1.1.0 - perc (2): vib/3 grad.SD/3 susp.cym/crot/bell tree/5 tbl/tam-t/BD/guiro/
wtr.gong; 4 timp/glock/xyl/3 tom-t/mtl.wind chimes/ 3 susp.cym - harp - pno - string quintet
 
 

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Program Notes

Measures 113-140 of the Chamber Concerto (a section of slow music, about 5- 6 minutes into the piece) were written in the spring of 1997. At that time, they were intended to be the opening bars of a solo piano piece. I really liked the raw material I had, but was obligated to do anoher project, and suspended work for a few months...

Over the next two years, I was to resume and abandon work on this piece (sometimes attempting to arrange it for radically different instrumental ensembles) five or six more times as my attempts to finish what I had started led me through a series of compositional defeats that finally ended in the summer of 1999. Two years of work had finally resulted in one, mediocre, Amorphous Piano/Violin Sonata Type Thing which was barely five minutes long. Needless to say, I was disappointed, and I sadly buried the peice in the composition junk yard.

Immediately afterwards, I began writing the Chamber Concerto, and quickly sketched out the first few minutes. When I stopped to take a break and figure out in which direction I wanted to move the piece, I studied my materials closely and made a most remarkable discovery- the two essential elements of the Chamber Concerto and the “amorphous piano/violin” piece were essentially the same! With little effort, I was able to connect the new music with the old quite naturally, and my quest to find a use for my old piano piece was finally over.

The Chamber Concerto begins with an “explosion,” and as the cloud settles, these two elements emerge. The first is a rhythmic figure of one note played twice in rapid succession (first heard in the low pizzicato strings and timpani). The second is an ornate and “arabesque” sound event that occurs in the flute, clarinet, harp, and piano. Over the four sections of the piece, these two ideas are developed continuosly, sometimes seperately and other times combined. The initial rhythmic motive is expanded, held, shifted, and chained to make the underlying rhythmic structure, while the “arabesque” idea begins to take on a more thematic and textural role.

This piece is something akin to "cartoon" music, and was deeply inspired by the sardonic nature of Stravinsky's Petrouschka and the Shostakovich Ninth Symphony.

 

 

 

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