Author Topic: A new short orchestral work  (Read 350 times)

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Michel.R.E

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A new short orchestral work
« on: October 05, 2017, 02:06:16 PM »
I was asked to supply an "overture" style piece for a concert in January/February. I had absolutely nothing already in my catalogue, so I found myself having to set the string quartet and the violin concerto aside while I tried to put together something satisfying.

There are a number of things about this piece that set it aside from the rest of my catalogue, prime among them is the very obvious wholehearted adoption of a blatantly impressionistic musical language. There are very few polyharmonic passages in this piece (a few, they are still there, but most likely well-hidden amidst the 7th and 9th chords). There are no outright fugal passages. And there are frequent shifts in the music, pauses and sudden changes of direction.

The subject matter for the piece?
"Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir". This is a line from a poem by Charles Baudelaire, from his poem "Harmonie du soir" ("Evening Harmony"). Translated, it says: "Sounds and perfumes turn/twirl in the evening air."

It's a beautiful poem, with a fascinating structure (it's a Pantoum).  But what drew me to it was this particular line (the 3rd line of the first stanza in the poem). It conjured up multiple images and sensations for me.

I did not attempt to describe the poem literally (the literary structure is far too limiting for a short orchestral work) but rather tried to evoke the sensations that it brought out for me.

There are three elements from the poem, however, that do make "literal" appearances in the music:
  • The idea of scents and sounds twirling in the air
  • A languorous waltz (from the 4th line of the first stanza)
  • The sound of a solo violin, like a tortured heart, blown on the wind (from the second stanza)

The orchestra is small: woodwinds by twos, two horns, and strings.

The title is "Les Sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir". I am also thinking of making it part of a set of orchestral pieces with literary references (another that intrigues me is "Die Lorelei").

More than likely this will be the last piece I post until next spring. The string quartet awaits my labours, and until that is finished I will not have much time to work on any other musical projects - as much as I might want to (I want to make a clarinet and string orchestra version of my clarinet quintet).

Here is the recording (know that there will more than likely be minor modifications as the end of October approaches.

"Les Sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir" for small orchestra

The score is attached. I haven't corrected all the collisions and spacing details yet.

« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 12:31:57 AM by Michel.R.E »
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Ron

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2017, 02:09:51 PM »
 8)  I've already commented privately. One question: I believe the target orchestra has a pair of trumpets. Why omit them?
Ron
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Michel.R.E

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2017, 02:23:00 PM »
I was supposed to include a pair of trumpets and a set of timpani, but while I was working on the piece it just felt... not trumpetty and not timpani-y.
I spoke with the conductor who said "it's your piece, write what you want".
I think my original intent was a sound world that more closely resembled that of "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faun".
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Jerry Engelbach

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2017, 10:08:44 AM »
The "blatant impressionism" is pretty successful. I imagine that the orchestra will be very pleased.

It feels almost like a sequel to l'après-midi. At any rate, it could make me scramble through all of my recordings of Debussy to find similar passages.

Your talent is impressive. I look forward to seeing more of your other two big works in progress.

Cheers,
Jer
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 11:13:43 AM by Jerry Engelbach »
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mjf1947

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 08:26:53 AM »
Michel.....is the work, which is quite beautiful for a professional ensemble?

Many intricate competing passages 4 over 6 ... multi layers which require perfect rhythym.

And of course the transparent intonation.

A challenging work.

I enjoyed listening to it very much as well as studying the score.

Mark



Michel.R.E

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2017, 08:47:41 AM »
Thank-you Jer and Mark.

To answer your question, Mark: the group is supposed to be "semi-professional". Some parts of the ensemble are much stronger than others. The main problem with this group isn't so much their actual technical prowess, as much as the apparent unwillingness by a few members to invest a bit of work and effort into learning works beyond "play the notes".

I actually held back IMMENSELY on the difficulty in this piece. Normally, I'd have written large swathes of it in shifting time signatures.

As it is, fingers crossed that they will do a good job with it.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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sandalwood

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2017, 05:24:56 PM »
A favorite idiom and a favorite composer (and some resemblance sought to a favorite work of another) :)  Congratulations for this new commission, Michel!

To my ears the piece has magical moments/passages like the clarinets from m.61, the theme from 03:50 and repeats, the whole first minute...

Held bass notes are boomy with both my headphones.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 05:28:34 PM by sandalwood »

Michel.R.E

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2017, 06:03:57 PM »
Thank-you Reha.

I really haven't worked on adjusting the audio file at all. It's just my printer score playing back. It is, quite literally, the score as it is going to appear in the published bound edition.
Interesting that the bass is so strong with your headphones... I find it lacks bass on mine!  Maybe I really need to get better headphones.


I've made some TINY modifications since posting it, but nothing that most people will really notice.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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RJB54

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2017, 07:49:07 AM »
As usual another excellent work. I didn't miss the trumpets or timpani at all  :). The colors of the orchestration are superb.
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sandalwood

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2017, 08:05:52 AM »
I do miss the harp :)

Michel.R.E

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2017, 09:25:34 AM »
Thank-you Robert.

And Reha, yes, I REALLY missed not having access to a harp for this, but, it did force me to look for alternatives for the textures.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

whitebark

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2017, 09:56:28 AM »
Shamelessly impressionistic and very lovely!

Jay

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2017, 01:03:21 PM »
An extraordinarily beautiful and evocative work!  I'm going to spend some time in the score.

Michel.R.E

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2017, 02:57:35 PM »
Thank-you very much, Patrick.

just be aware that I'll be bringing a bunch of modifications, minor though they may be, nothing that will affect the harmony or melodic lines.
However, I'm working on altering the contrabass line to make it not so "whole note"-ish and boring, and also changing a bit of phrasing.

The one place I HAVE changed some notes, though it won't be heard in the recording, is during the main theme in the woodwinds, the 2nd violin and viola parts.

Right now the violas are doing quarter note triplets, while the 2nd violins are just doing open string doublestops.
I've altered that so that the 2nds are also doing triplets, and the two voices cross each other, the violas playing F# - C# - F#. while the 2nd violins are playing D(with G) - E - G.

It's nothing major, doesn't really affect the overall sound, but it does make the two parts slightly less boring for the musicians (particularly the 2nd violins).
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 05:33:39 PM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

RJB54

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Re: A new short orchestral work
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2017, 05:30:44 PM »
Thank-you Robert.

And Reha, yes, I REALLY missed not having access to a harp for this, but, it did force me to look for alternatives for the textures.

I like this without the harp. I think the various substitutions for the traditional harp figurations makes the piece more interesting to my ear.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
Frank Zappa