Paine Hall, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
California EAR Unit
The Concerto for Six Players is in three movements, each of which employ the instruments to their full virtuosic potential. As is the case with a number of my chamber works, the instruments play an extrovert role with the view to creating a larger orchestral texture. In the first movement, the payers combine to form a larger 'instrument' that it chameleon-like with its constantly shifting colours. The musical character of the first movement is also extremely volatile, as it shifts from jagged, pulsating rhythms to calmer lyrical sections of an almost frozen quality.
The tranquillity suggested in the first movement becomes more pronounced in the second. This movement is in memory of the pianist Ivan Mikashoff, who died in 1993. The piano plays a solo role, although it is extremely introvert and personal. The other instruments cushion the statements of the piano with expanding sustained harmonies. There is a brittle, nervous Scherzo in the middle of the movement, with the other instruments echoing the piano. The closing section of the work becomes increasingly still. It would not be going too far to suggest that the final gesture is a musical depiction of a last breath.
The last movement is hyperactive. Following a tense, rhythmically ambiguous opening, the movement gradually builds up steam towards a highly charged ending. Beginning within a narrow range of pitches, the register eventually expands as the material becomes more dense. The piccolo, flute and bass clarinet are often used at their extreme registers to highlight this effect. After a frantic closing statement, the music 'evaporates' into thin air, leaving remnants of the material first heard in the opening movement.
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer