flute, piano and orchestra

Crossworlds is dedicated to tonight’s soloists, Marina Piccinini and Andreas Haefliger, who gave the world premiere with the Boston Symphony conducted by Hans Graf on March 7, 2002. These soloists also gave the Canadian premiere with the Winnipeg Symphony in December of that year. Colgrass, as articulate in words as he is in notes, explains how Crossworlds works: «In recent years, my interests in theater, literature and world events have led me to treat soloists in my music as if they were characters in a play. … In Crossworlds, I carry this idea a little further. The flute’s character is represented by a melody that is tonal, simple and suggestive of Eastern culture. The piano’s nature is expressed by an atonal theme, complex and percussive in nature, not unlike the West. The adventure for me was to see what would happen when these two absolutely different musics met and perhaps crossed over into each other’s world.

The piece opens with the flute, quiet and meditative, almost modal in character. We hear the piano respond aggressively with a completely different music - dissonant and aggressive in character, as if saying, ‘No, not that way, this way.’ A series of encounters follows – the flute subtly persuasive, the piano more dominating in nature – and we hear them begin to change as they enter each other’s world. To reaffirm their own identities, each instrument reviews its musical roots - the flute making excursions into Arabic and Balinese styles, and the piano looking back to its Baroque, Romantic and impressionistic past. Finally they return to their own musical identities, albeit subtly changed. «The orchestra’s role is to help define the character and style of each soloist, and also to provide them with allies – the harp, viola, cello and vibraphone support the flute, and the piccolo, high clarinet and muted brass help create the piano’s world. The strings can go either way, or remain neutral.»

Robert Markow