flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano

Commission: Ensemble Transmission

Premiere: April 29, 2011, Trans/plosion, Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Montréal (Québec)

Der Tag mit seinem Licht (the Day with its Light) draws its title from a chorale melody of the same name from the 69 Chorale Melodies published together with JS Bach’s 371 Harmonized Chorales. Of particular note in this work is the emphasis on diatonic materials, recontextualized in a non-linear, non-diatonic framework; triads, diatonic scales and cadences abound in contexts where harmonic “colour” supercedes functional harmony. The original chorale melody is at times heard explicity; at other times, it is subjected to various types of alterations, though its distinctive contour (near-perfect ascending and descending lines in alternation) remains recognizable.

The orchestration is, for the most part, fragile. The vibraphone frequently contributes running lines or chords as a kind of “underpainting” for many of the work’s textures, while the sparer piano part articulates larger scale formal divisions. The violin emerges on several occasions with filigree work, though at a quiet dynamic, restrained by the use of a mute. Crippled sonorities emerge through rarefied appearances of the celesta (emphasizing the low register), piccolo (likewise emphasizing its low register), toy piano and recorder.

Chris Paul Harman [iv-11]

Performance

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