The Real Book of Fake Tunes
for flute (piccolo/flute/alto flute) and string quartet(2015)
|Commission||Commissioned by the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University for the Spektral Quartet and Claire Chase|
|Premiere||April 24, 2016; University of Maryland; Claire Chase, flute • Spektral Quartet|
The five movements of this work are, of course, no more “tunes” in the traditional definition of the word than fake book lead sheets are substitutes for songs in all their multiple dimensions of performance history and interpretative open-endedness. The somewhat tongue-in-cheek title - with a reference to the infamous “Real Book” that has served as a gateway anthology and/or gig enabler for so many aspiring jazz musicians since the 70s - belies a formal architecture of five movements with distinctive characteristics, and with an instrumentation that has been around since the 18th Century but has still not found a serious following. The different character traits between and consistency within each movement, as well as the relatively equal durations, give the feeling of a suite. Parallels could be drawn to different genre types: a floating, weightless introduction that turns capricious, a somewhat sorrowful ballad with interruptions, a semi-serious scherzo that swells and subsides in wave-like motions, a resonance study that turns into a free-flowing, improvisatory rhapsody. And in the finale, the closest one gets to a “tune” in the familiar sense, with repeated and expanding yet irregularly timed chord progressions that might remind some of John Coltrane’s “Countdown.” Throughout, the interplay between the flutes and quartet is one that is ever-shifting, with roles that alternate between soloist/accompaniment and fully integrated and equal. The dynamic personalities of Claire Chase and the members of the Spektral Quartet were never far from my thoughts when composing this piece, and I am grateful to them for giving me the chance to stretch in whatever ways suitable to the whimsical moment.
– Anthony Cheung