La Scène Miniature
for piccolo and violoncello(2009/16)
|Premiere||May 10, 2009; Baden-Baden Ars Nova Festival, New York City; Carin Levin, piccolo • Rohan de Saram, cello|
Special thanks to Margaret Lancaster and John Popham who helped prepare this final score for performance in NYC on October 14, 2016.
The score for La Scène Miniature, version for flute, piano, bass clarinet and cello is also available online from PSNY.
|Technical requirements||Two scores are required for performance.|
La Scène Miniature refers to the crucial scene in Albert Camus's l’Étranger, where protagonist Meursault's impulsive action unleashes a series of unforeseen consequences.
This tormented murder scene takes place on a beautifully calm Algerian beach, beginning with a man on the rocks calmly playing the same three notes on a flute over and over as the protagonist approaches. How can music capture the external beauty of this scene, (the wind, sea, birds, and unforgettable sun), alongside the internal conflict both Meursault and his opponent are experiencing (or in Meursault’s case, not experiencing)?
As the title suggests, la scène miniature quartet is a descriptive work condensing narrative events of an imagined opera scene into shortened instrumental passages. Quite different in approach to my recently completed Flow Cycle (where musical ideas evolve, transform, and reappear from one composition to the next over the course of an hour), la scène miniature quartet does away with development in favor of capturing precise musical moments.
The piccolo’s lyricism and joviality (beginning with the three repeated notes) are contrasted with the cello’s glacial soundscapes in very high register (representing immovable nature) and, eventually, descending into the lowest range of the instrument to depict the internal struggle of the human spirit.