FIGURE-GROUND receives premiere

FIGURE-GROUND, for flute, violin, viola, and cello was commissioned by Electric Earth Concerts and given its premiere at the Old Francestown Meetinghouse in New Hampshire on July 9, 2015. (In the video linked above, there are initial comments and examples–the music starts about 4’50”).  A previous performance was given at the Duke Gardens in Durham.

The music is drawn from Three Figures and a Ground, my 1987 composition for flute and piano, first performed by Patricia Spencer and David Oie at Merkin Hall, New York, in March 1988. Besides offering flutists and string players something new to play, making this version offered me a chance to reimagine the composition in a more distilled concentrate. Figure presents rhythmically acute music, then its shadow: lyrical music approaching stasis. The second movement begins with an Introduction in which the flute plays more freely; then the Ground, the movement’s main sonic image, is introduced in slow time, like a Pavane. Its minor-major tonality (or is it major-minor?), explored in the variants which follow, has been heard to evoke blues, Romantic and Eastern European music. Actually, the Pavane began life as Impromptu for piano, a parodical homage to one of my teachers, the American composer George Rochberg. My original Pavane glosses a pair of gestures from that composer’s Symphony No. 2. The manner and substance of the variations that follow is free and polystylistic, ranging widely, but cut from the cloth of its rough and open tonality.                                                                         (-SJ)

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