Partita

About this work

Composed in 1971, this dynamic composition is set for harpsichord and an orchestra of 9 woodwinds, 22 strings, celesta and various percussion instruments. At the onset, long tones a semi-tone apart begin pulsing, followed by clusters, tremolo tones, fast cycles and whirls of sound in similar pulsations. The harpsichord solos on fast cyucles in different rhythms, backed up by splattering horns, and a wildly avant-garde jazz ombo of amplified instruments. The pulsations then start to fragment in many directions, and fiery cycles shoot off ffrom the winds. This falls apart into glassy sounds, and soon the sawing of strings becomes insistent again. Not to be forgotten, the harpsichordist sounding like Cecil Taylor on speed, comes in again with a wild solo, and the small band develops multi-rhythmic chops, soon taken over by the orchestra. All comes to a halt for a harpsichord solo equally built on fast bi-tonal exercise arpeggios interspersed with chops. This is again taken up by the orchestra, which mutates the texture into a heavenly shimmer. The harpsichordist's energy wanes into almost arhythmical obsession with a passage of clusters, joined by tiny bells and rattling percussion. A breath. Tiny bells, small percussion begins in slow pulse and swells to a faster pulse (that Japanese Zen gesture), this idea is then imitated by the orchestra in uncoordinated sections of high strings and basses. Tubular bells then take over the arhythmical shake, this modulating into the amplified guitar and percussive strings. The harpsichord comes in with a low tone, and immediately speaks in prose-like passages quickly turning into whirls. This spreads out to the orchestra, who follow with many variations on the idea of trills and quick random runs from the bass to the high treble - in between, deep brass come in, the strings chop (like Herrmann's "Psycho" music), the combo chops, the whole orchestra pulsates each in their own rhythm. Eventually, this settles down in a few repetitions of a single note in the harpsichord. The high strings appear from the silence with a high pitched pulsation accompanied by a slowly sliding tone underneath, like a siren. Very quietly, the deep bass intone a few low tones. The piece is over. An incredibly energetic experience that seems to have had a narrative, but that story is whatever has been evoked in each listener's mind.

Done