It's been quite some time since I posted here. I would like to share with you what I would consider my finest work to date, both in terms of my compositional ability and my work with GPO. I spent about 10 months on this one, from April 2011 to January 2012. The aspect of this piece that I am most proud of is that I believe it is the epitome of what I have been trying to accomplish stylistically and harmonically for the past six years or so.
The majority of the thematic and harmonic material (particularly in the first and third movements) is derived from a single four note pitch class set (C, G, Ab, B) whose numerous permutations generate an immense amount of unique ideas throughout the work.
The first movement begins with a hazy Lento passage in which the primary motif (based on the aforementioned pitch set) of the work is introduced by the viola. The music builds to a dramatic "Maestoso" passage. The rest of the introduction maintains a dreamy atmosphere, until the section marked "More Lively," where the piece is quickly whipped up into a frenzy and then scarcely loses momentum from that point forward. The rest of the movement is fast, fantastical and very loosely structured. Here there are definitely some strong influences from composers such as Ravel, Szymanowski, and Sorabji.
After the movement relentlessly pushes forward, it hits its climax and plummets downward, ending with a very short reprise of some of the opening material. The second movement begins shortly thereafter. This movement, a theme and eleven variations, is the "core" of the work, so-to-speak. After introducing the theme, variation one begins, which is based on a two-note viola ostinato which has been described by my composition teacher as "obsessive." Variation two has a very sporadic, unpredictable quality. Variation three (marked "Pizzicato") exclusively uses pizzicato for both the soloist and the string section. Variation four gives the impression of a lop-sided waltz, alternating between 5/8 and 6/8 meters. Variation five ("Ritmico") is faster and, as implied my the marking, quite rhythmic. Variation six is based on fast orchestral arpeggios formed from polychords. Variation seven ("Sostenuto") slows the movement down immensely and is comprised of quiet, sustained sonorities. Variation eight (my personal favorite) is a dream-like arabesque that contains some of my richest harmonic work. Variation nine picks up speed again, leading to a very dense, chromatic variation ("In a confused manner") in which the theme is combined with the first movement's pitch set. Variation eleven ("Maestoso") is the climax of the movement, which is followed by a virtuosic cadenza and a mysterious coda.
The third movement again derives the bulk of its content from the original pitch set, now juxtaposed with the rest of the themes from the first two movements. The majority of the movement is toccata-like (perhaps containing sections somewhat reminiscent of heavy metal music), barring one extended section that occurs before the coda, in which all of the past themes are increasingly broadened and combined simultaneously. After this, the music becomes frenzied once again, reprises the first movement, and then builds fiercely to its final climax.
Anyway, on with the music!
I. Lento - Maestoso - More lively - Giocoso
II. Theme and Variations
III. Allegro molto
Thank you for listening! Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
P.S. To hear more of my music, please visit my website (http://www.johncareycomposer.com) and YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/johncareycomposer).