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Quatuor Attaque 


Certain rather exotic (and in some cases, quite ancient) instruments are occasionally employed for their special timbral characteristics, for example: two slide-whistles (in "Wanderer-Fantasy"); a metal thunder-sheet (in "The Advent"); African log drum, quijada del asino (jawbone of an ass), sistrum, Tibetan prayer stones, musical jug, alto recorder, and, in "Myth", African thumb piano and guiro (played by the pianists). Some of the more ethereal sounds of Summer Evening are produced by drawing a contrabass bow over tam-tams, crotales, and vibraphone plates. This kaleidoscopic range of percussion timbre is integrated with a great variety of special sounds produced by the pianists. In "Music of the Starry Night", for example, the piano strings are covered with sheets of paper, thereby producing a rather surrealistic distortion of the piano tone when the keys are struck.

As in several of my other works, the musical fabric of Summer Evening results largely from the elaboration of tiny cells into a sort of mosaic design. This time-hallowed technique seems to function in much new music, irrespective of style, as a primary structural modus. In its overall style, Summer Evening might be described as either more or less atonal, or more or less tonal. The more overtly tonal passages can be defined in terms of the basic polarity F#-D# minor (or, enharmonically, Gb-Eb minor). This (most traditional) polarity is twice stated in "The Advent" -- in the opening crescendo passages ("majestic, like a larger rhythm of nature"), and in the concluding "Hymn for the Nativity of the Star-Child". It is stated once again in "Music of the Starry Night", with the quotation of passages from Bach's D# minor fugue (Well-tempered Clavier, Book II) and a concluding "Song of Reconciliation" in Gb (overlaid by an intermittently resounding "Fivefold Galactic Bells" in F#). One other structural device which the astute listener may perceive is the isorhythmic construction of "Myth", which consists of simultaneously performed taleas of 13, 7, and 11 bars...

 

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