Silver Haloflute quartet (2007)
|Commission||Flute Force with support from the Brannen-Cooper Fund|
|Technical requirements||Flute 1: energy chime|
Flute 2: piccolo, energy chime
Flute 3: alto flute
Flute 4: bass flute
I find the flute’s mercurial voice, its extraordinary dynamic, expressive and technical prowess, endlessly compelling.
Silver Halo’s expanded instrumentation includes: C Flutes, Piccolo, Alto Flute, Bass Flute as well as a pair of Energy Chimes. The Energy Chime, a small single cylindrical metal bar approximately 5 inches long and suspended on a wooden frame, is played with a short plastic mallet and creates a high bell-like pitch of long duration. The work attempts to engage the virtuosic craft and the collective talents of these brilliant musicians.
Movement I: (“misterioso”) opens with the solitary striking of Energy Chimes [Flutes 1 and 2 onstage] followed by Alto Flute and Bass Flute responses played by Flutes 3 and 4 who are positioned (whenever possible) behind the audience. As they play their “processional” music, Flutes 3 and 4 proceed toward the stage. The initial separation of the musicians creates a “halo- like” environment that helps to define, clarify and frame the discrete flute voices in the sonic space. The ensemble gradually coalesces around a forceful “chase” section of C Flutes whose shifting meters and interlocking parts generate a propulsive monophonic texture of rapidly articulated phrases that ultimately unravel by movement’s end.
Movement II: (capriccioso e animato), opens with a single pitch F that abruptly expands into fast cascading wave-like gestures. The introduction is followed by a capricious and spirited calliope-like theme in Alto Flute that becomes the structural foundation for a process of continuously evolving harmonic and textural variations. These variations form the large-scale arch design that builds to the movement’s midpoint, then reveres the order of those sections in a palindrome fashion.
Movement III, (“piccante e percussivo”) drawing its materials and episodic design from both the “chase” music of Movement I and the “calliope” music of Movement II, first starts with the full ensemble in six-sixteen meter playing increasingly assertive gestures like the incessantly turning cogs of a clock. This texture progresses to a stately fanfare-like homophonic theme that gradually advances to the cumulative final climatic statement of the “chase” and “clockworks” music.
- Joseph Schwantner