Autumn Song for mixed ensemble (T, B, Cl, Vc, BD) (2017) (To Samuel David Downes)
This is a very sinister interpretation of Paul Verlaine's famous poem Chanson d'automne from his first collection Poèmes saturniens, and more specifically from the Payasages tristes, 'Sad landscapes'. It is reflecting on the poem's use for the invasion of Normandy in World War II, therefore using the dark and foreboding character of the E Phrygian mode. This composition is inspired by fourteenth century French polyphonic and isorythmic composition techniques and picking up on the idea of a repeating rhythmic pattern, yet it aims never to sound quite settled for both performers and audience. Thus, an 11/8 meter is deliberatly chosen and juxtaposed to 12/8 only when the text leaves space for hope and remembrance of brighter days. The in many parts polyphonic texture picks up on the idea of imitation of both preocurring musical ideas, as well as paraphrasing what is given in the text, sometimes creating an onomatopoeic effect (see for example cello in high register, sounding like a violin, m. 16 ff.). With the careful choice of instruments that have a very different sound quality in different registers, this work makes use of a wide pitch range to ensure a great variation in timbres and more possibilities to set into music what is skilfully written in words.
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