Partita for Chamber Orchestra in 6 Movements is my slightly humorous tribute to the traditional genre of Baroque music. It is not written, however, in the Baroque style, but in my own original idiom. I don’t exactly follow the traditional order of movements in this Partita for three woodwinds, four strings and four percussion instruments.
Movement I “Preamble” is jubilantly and at the same time humorously majestic.
Movement II “Nightingale and Rose,” is, rather than an Allemande, a fable for flute and cello in which the Rose is the cello in high register and the Nightingale (the flute) tries to tell the arrogant and ruthless Rose about his love. The Rose, in a peremptory way, orders him away, and the poor Nightingale expires from the grief of not being loved by her.
Movement III “Stumbling Sarabande” is a humorous epitaph to the dead Nightingale (though traditionally the Courante would have been the third movement!).
Movement IV “Crazy Courante” is ironic and impetuous, with precipitous passages toward the ending as if in a crazy hurry towards the finish of a race.
Movement V “Eclogue” is gently pastoral and humorously naive.
Movement VI “Gigue,” like the first movement, has a jubilant character; like the 5th movement, is slightly rustic and naive, though a bit more “rough;” and like the “Courante” is lively, with precipitous rubato passages in the end.
Almost all the movements have echo effects in which small bits of previous phrases are repeated softly as an echo.
String Quartet “Three Tableau Noir” is based on material from my chamber opera Inheritance (the libretto for it is written by me, and is based on a short story by the great Indian poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore). The first movement uses material connected with the prologue of my opera. It is tragic, turbulent, and at times sinister in its character.
The second movement is connected with a scene in my opera in which one of the main protagonists, an insane old man, first meets a boy named Nitay. The music is pensive at first, connected to the aria of the old man. Later in the movement, the energy of the music becomes associated with the boy—active and slightly naive. However, what the music conveys is not a joyful, but rather a twisted and doomed childhood, with a shadow of death over it. In the very end, a short, sinister phrase from the cello portends the horrible fate of Nitay.
The third movement is connected with the nightly walk of the old man and the boy through the forest to the ruins of an old temple and with the monotonous prayer of the old man at the vault there, with simultaneous flashes of horror in the mind of the doomed child. In the opera, after the prayer, the old man leaves the vault, taking away the ladder and locking the vault, immuring the child there. This short story by Rabindranath Tagore produced a striking impression on me when I read it as a child through its haunting tragic beauty and highly poetic language.
Both the second and third movements of this piece end very abruptly, as if cut off at the end—like the short life of Nitay.
“Querying the Silence” Volume 1 Series 9 for Oboe and Cello in 2 Movements
All my pieces under this title are permeated with a restless spirit of futility of effort—to query the silence means only to listen to the echo of one’s own words and one’s own thoughts. In this work, the echo effect is presented as an echo at a certain temporal distance—as an imitation, as an exchange of material in double counterpoint, and of course, as an immediate echo of a certain short musical idea. The first movement is a passionate, disconsolate utterance with lament-like descending phrases. The second movement has a soothing, serene, slightly naive musical idea in the beginning, which alternates with another lament-like material and ultimately comes to a seemingly peaceful ending—peaceful but with an undercurrent of a question unresolved. I wrote this composition for two brilliant performers: oboist Izumi Sakamoto and cellist Sebastian Bäverstam. Both parts are of challenging difficulty.
“Inner Temple” Volume 2 Series 4 “Sacred Triptych”
In the three movements of this work I sought to convey not only a devotional mood but, first and foremost, all the complexities of humanity’s relationship with the Divine. The first movement is somber and dramatically majestic, balancing “between trepidation and hope” with a somewhat searching mood. The second movement is a bittersweet Hallelujah and an expression of timid love for the Divine, with a smile through tears and regretful acceptance of one’s earthly destiny. The third movement is also majestic, in a more austere yet at the same time more mysterious, enigmatic way than the first movement. It contains an even more pronounced searching, questioning mood, and ends abruptly with a huge question mark.
“Prophecies” series 4 “Quaestiones et Responsa”
for Chamber Orchestra in 4 Movements
This composition has a huge rondo-like form which is superimposed upon a four-movement cycle. At the same time, it has features of the Baroque concerto form with its alternation of instrumental groups—concertino and ripieno. Each movement is based on the antiphon principle: there is in each movement a refrain, and the material of the refrain is similar for all movements (it is played by cello solo and cello echoed by marimba, and by marimba and timpani in the first movement; by flute in the second; by two violins and viola always playing pizzicato in the third movement; and by clarinet echoed by marimba in the fourth movement).
The refrain is a “question,” which is returned to several times during each movement. It alternates in each movement with responses, or episodes, which have a certain character throughout each movement. They are soothing and consoling in the first movement; intense, passionate, and sinister in the second movement; pastoral and serene in the third; and forceful, seemingly relentless, but in reality enigmatic in the fourth movement. All the responses are played by the ripieno group. All movements have rubato sections, which always have a very significant role in my music.
Quartet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano “Querying the Silence” Volume 1 Series 8 in 3 Movements
In this work, light and bright colors prevail, though as usual in this series there are undercurrents of futile questions which only receive an echo as a response; however, here the spirit of acceptance and hope is dominant. The character of the music is mostly serene, peaceful, at times lyrical, and at times playfully energetic. Sometimes in the first and third movements the music has a devotional character. Like in all the previous compositions on this album, this quartet has echo effects and numerous rubato moments.
“Prophecies” Series 5 for Chamber Orchestra in 4 Movements
Like the previous work titled “Prophecies” on this album, this mysterious composition, with its concise movements, is permeated with the spirit of ritualistic fervor and remains enigmatic until the end. As the veil over the mystery is never really lifted, a big question mark remains, and what is revealed is confusing and difficult to interpret. This is despite a seemingly more clear, lucid, transparent, and even at times more soothing character of music than in the answers in Quaestiones and Responsa. In a way, this work is even more complex and ambiguous in its character.
The first movement is, I would say, enigmatically and deceptively serene. There is something lurking there, under the surface of a quiet pond, and what creates even more confusion is a constant echo in the piano part of each musical phrase.
The second movement has a strange textural contrast (or it is an inner conflict?). It contains a simultaneous combination of turbulent, agitated parts of strings that play dynamically in the background and a choral-like piano part sounding dynamically in the foreground. Structurally, the phrases of the choral-like part are separated in time by ritornellos of string instruments. The meaning of this prophecy is dark.
The third movement is again a study in contrasts. On one hand, there is a refrain—a fervent, ritualistic recitation with its cantillation on repeated notes in small range in its refrain, which with every recurrence becomes more and more insistent, intense, and passionate, thicker in texture and louder in dynamics. On the other hand, there are episodes which soar upward in large range phrases of piano and percussion with pizzicato cello. Once again, all is said, but nothing revealed.
The fourth movement has the most complex semantic undercurrent. It is seemingly bittersweet, Schubertian in character, sorrowfully serene and soothing, like the testament of someone who is reconciled with both life (which is almost behind) and death (which is at hand). Nevertheless, there are still moments (cadences and harmonic turns) which bring about these undercurrents, making the meaning of this prophecy ambiguous and open to interpretation.
Volume 2 Series 3 “Sacred Diptych” for Cello and Piano
Like Sacred Triptych, this composition has a devotional mood. I consider it the most large-scale, monumental work in this set—not in size, but in the character of music, especially the second movement. The first movement is tragic, at times questioning, passionately rebellious, or resigned in character. It is a sorrowful musing on the human condition, on unresolved mysteries of life in this world, and on that tremulous uncertainty of what to expect in the world that is to come “beyond, over there, far away.”
The second movement is written in the form of double variations. It is assertive, epic and monumental, and at times even heroic in character. Here I sought to convey the uplifting of the human spirit, which seeks healing in the miracle of Faith. As a result—because of Faith, on the foundation of Faith—a powerful ray of Hope shines in the end. I intend to create an orchestral version of this piece—a double concerto for cello and piano with orchestra. This piece ends, like others in this album, with the gesture of a question—an ascending melodic seventh, repeated in the cello; is it now just a rhetorical question, as we received the answer to it, or still a question that remains without an answer?
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