Novavn . va . vc . db . pno (1979)
|Commission||Manhattan Quintet as a companion piece for Schubert's Trout Quintet.|
|Premiere||The Manhattan Quintet at Carnegie Recital Hall on September 27, 1979|
The composer/conductor John Adams wrote, in 1984:
"Picker's music rests firmly in the serial tradition. Unlike the scores of his contemporaries, it is freer and more flexible and it conveys a spontaneity of gesture all too often missing in other recent twelve-tone music. Picker is not an abstract theorist but rather a practical and practicing craftsman. He knows how to make the instruments sound well. One gets the impression of a music which fits perfectly the nature of the instrument. Nova, to date his most successful work, shares the easy-going, bouncy good humor of its Schubertian ancestor. Its rhythmic profile is clean and well-articulated, giving the already attractive tonal palette a fresh, almost breezy energy."
In an article for the San Francisco Chronicle on December 19, 1981, Robert Commanday wrote:
"...Betraying no hint of whimsy in his manner, Tobias Picker of New York, 27 years old and already a much honored composer, gave a fishy explanation of his quintet, Nova (1979) -- at least of the title. "Of course, it refers to lox," he said, as in Nova Scotia salmon. "The piece was commissioned by a group of friends who formed in order to play Schubert's Trout Quintet and this was its companion piece."
""It didn't occur to name it after a fish until it was finished. I thought for days about what fish to name it. No, not Hamilton Fish. I'm not a political composer. The people who didn't pick up the joke thought I meant the star, and others thought I meant the car. It's really whimsical. It's a piece which swims along."
""The composition of it also went swimmingly. Usually writing a piece is a tremendous operation. The spirit of the Trout contributed but it wasn't particularly in my mind and my piece is short by comparison, 10 to 12 minutes, in three movements."
"Carrying the metaphor along, it turns out that Nova was spawned by another Picker work written four years before. "That piece was transformed into an entirely new piece (Nova), not a rewrite, all different," he explained. "The source wouldn't be recognizable, except to me.""