for Two Horns, Wind and Strings
on a purpose-selected tone row


(1) Andante comodo - Piu mosso - Tempo I - Adagietto
(2) Grave ma non troppo - Meno mosso
(3) Rondo. Finale. Allegro speculativa - Allegro risveglio - Tempo I - Allegro risoluto - Tempo I - Presto assai - Tempo I - Andante comodo - Tempo I - Adagio comodo - Tempo I - Prestissimo - Tempo I

Date Duration Listen
1 October 2013 31'33" Realization (.MP3) Score (.PDF)
43.3 MB 552 KB

Amazingly, this being my 46th opus number (the vast majority of which including one or another deformation of sonata forms among their movements) - it boasts only my very second rondo movement ever as its finale. Believe me, this happened not because I'm an incorrigible experimenter who can't be corralled into producing in outmoded forms, but because I'm a hidebound, unoriginal thinker who can't color outside the lines. My later compositions have been generally so tightly defined melodically and harmonically before I ever even started actually putting notes on staves, that it never occurred to me I could include a rondo movement among them. Then, it finally struck me that I could take my rondo theme, transpose it to whatever appropriate tonal center the following passage demanded according to the skeleton plan, and simply insert it into the predetermined flow of rotating tone rows anywhere the spirit so moved me. Genius (spoken with profound irony) !

Ah, but the really "interesting" thing about this octet is the accidental nature of its harmonic framework: I was already four full minutes into the composition of the sonata-allegro movement, when it suddenly became clear I had forgotten to update one of the basic script parameters that deals out my selected tone row into the 48 rotated segments that define the outline of the entire piece. With a groan - and because I am basically the laziest man on earth, in so many ways - I decided not to correct the problem and went ahead with the project as sketched, thus creating a work based harmonically not on some arbitrary and artful combination of related tonal centers, or even on its own tone row, but on the tone row used during the composition of my previous work: the Symphony, Op.45. Hence, we are treated to a "sonata-allegro" movement featuring an exposition in C, followed by a development in Bb, and finally rounded off with a recapitulation in Gb, i.e., a diminished fifth - a tritone! - distant from the exposition. This entirely accidental arrangement, while it will certainly never produce anything so useful as penicillin or x-rays for the benefit of the human race, must at least give every listening ear a perfect opportunity to judge for itself just exactly how "absolutely necessary" traditional diatonic theory is for establishing tonal centers and compositional coherence in musical works. Because, after all, the very idea of recapitulating a sonata movement at the tritone, rather than the tonic, is so absurd and unthinkable as to be even beyond heresy and well into the realm of the insane. And yet, dear listener, here you hear it actually achieved in all its deranged glory.

You decide.

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