falling from the centre of night
This is a timecode-supported polytemporal ensemble piece for eight players.
Dedicated to Ian Pace
The premiere is scheduled for the 6th of June at City University, London with Ian Pace and The Pierrot Players.
Percussion 1: Marimba [4.3]; 5 Woodblocks ranging from high to low; Glockenspiel; Windchimes (a collection of three different types of metal Windchimes with sounds ranging from high to low mounted next to each other in such a way that the playing of one will initiate the sounding of the others to create a complex metallic sound akin to but different from a Mark Tree); Mounted Tambourine Ring.
Percussion 2: Vibraphone
This is my second piano concerto. The first, the round and square art of memory, commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic in 1999 was for huge forces. By contrast, the forces used here are economical, but the intensity and virtuosity of the music are no less than its predecessor. This concerto also differs from the former in that it is polytemporal, that is, a composition where all the instruments play together independently and at different speeds to one another simultaneously. With no conductor, the musical structure is organised by the players themselves using part-embedded timecode indicated through minutes and seconds printed above every bar in each part. Players are loosely synchronised together at the start of the piece and subsequently align their playing with the ongoing digital time display on each player’s mobile phone stopwatch. Despite its performance novelty, this work is through-composed and supports degrees of flexibility concerning the structural relationships of musical detail at a local level. Owing to this flexibility, no two performances are identical but each will be rendered as a recognisable iteration of the other.
The piano holds a particular relationship with the violoncello throughout the piece, making this work something of a double concerto, in my mind, at least. To emphasise this, the piano and violoncello should be placed together and somewhat apart from the remainder of the ensemble and the violoncello should not be seen as part of the string trio.
The title of the piece is not intended to offer any programmatic intention or insight into what unfolds as sound: any or no relationship to the title and the sounding music is forged at the discretion of the composer, performer and listener. Despite this statement, there is an unfolding of material that manifests through contrasting sections of music to hopefully provide the listener with a compelling experience even without programmatic intent. It is the interplay between and within these sections that is the narrative content of the composition.
The material used here stems from, among other sources, self-borrowed, recontextualised and transformed materials drawn from several solo and ensemble compositions including i urge the moment forward (2020), Conrad’s Toye (2020) and Toy Box, (2020) for solo piano, pathos, (2012) for solo violoncello, observation string quartets 1 and 2, (both 2015) as well as harp and percussion materials from an exploration of bright (2014) and chablon (2016).
Duration: circa 22-minutes
© Marc Yeats March 2022