PASO DEL FUEGO
String Quartet & Orchestra
1. Preludio y coral
3. Fantasía del bailarín
4. Romance arioso
5. Capricho a cuatro arcos
Accordion & Orchestra
This was a commission for a piece to end the last concert of the 20th anniversary season of the orchestra, and to showcase a virtuoso classical accordion player. Spokes, gears and cranks, air chambers and varying pressures, flywheels and levers, the machine grinds a spirited industrial metamorphosis. The accordion churns away freed from its inherited expectations, showcased in a ride of musical fancy. The music, loosely cast as a set of variations, is based on thematic material inspired by the action of the accordion’s bellows, its breathing apparatus and leading driver of the performing forces.
Concertino, bandoneon & Orchestra
This was a commission for an accessible piece inspired by tango. The following are the 2nd and 3rd movements, recorded during a live performance, edited.
The bandoneón is the soul of Argentina, land of city-scapes and pampas, of adventures, aromas, first loves, mate (green tea) rituals, nostalgia and introspective pessimism, lunfardo and perennial bar polemics. It is a land of hopes fulfilled and of shattered dreams, of unqualified splendor and utter disillusionment, of noble history and disgraceful recent past. All these collective memories come to bear weight on this work and are also imbedded in the sound of the bandoneón.
The poet Jorge Luis Borges vacationed in Adrogué, a town in the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires where I grew up, and wrote about it in numerous occasions. It is a place of “bucolic houses and iron fences (quintas y verjas)” wrote Borges, “enveloped by the medicinal aroma of eucalyptus trees, that ancient smell; traced by a tranquil labyrinth of canopied streets radiating from its numerous squares. A place, to loose oneself in." - I remember "loosing myself in,” walking a different route each time while contemplating very important things or nothing, according to the occasion.
Obertura de la lira encantada
A piano harp (the one used to extract the sound samples) provided the inspiration for the idea of a magical environment, deep inside the acoustical universe of the instrument (a lyre), in which the pianist touches every physical parameter and makes music unremittingly.
This work is a Koussevitzky commission award. It is in a more abstract style with focus on lively colors.
In a surreal landscape strings instruments dictate the sounding of musical ideas. The “voice [or call] of the strings” is an instrument inspired sound voyage. Melodies, harmonies, textures and gestures are presented through the perspective of the string instrument as if, in a fantastic rendezvous, the strings had taken control of the performance space, picked up scattered notes and revealed them through their idiosyncratic acoustical nature.
Trip to Twelve Tone Town
A series of miniatures for children based on the tone row of Anton Webern’s 1924 Kinderstück. The work is intended to introduce the 12-tone technique to young audiences in a lighthearted manner. Upcoming CD recording by pianist Janis Mercer.
“Can you count to twelve?” requires the player to figure out how to sound all 12 pitches simultaneously without using the damper pedal.
“Retro Rock” presents the tone row in reverse order and in a retro-music style.
“How far can you reach” explores dynamic contrast, tone color, and extreme registers with two statements of the row that start around the middle of the keyboard.
violin & Electronic Sounds
The musical material and the titles of the five movements evoke blurred or illusory images from the Argentina. The electronic part is made up in its entirety of events played by the violinist and treated through various processors and synchronized with the score.
- Cadenza y danza en moto perpetuo: a fiery violin and electronic ostinato built from violin phrases (through granulation with four resonators tuned to pitch material in the score). Grain length and rate across the sample determine rhythm and tempi exclusively (MIDI is not used). Syncopations result from randomly scanning the sample’s peaks and valleys. Percussive attacks are pizzicatos and knocks transformed into gross exaggerations of such typical string techniques.
- El colibrí mágico (magic hummingbird) electronic pizzicatos, tremolos and trills perform a fluttering responsorial display with the violin.
- El campanario de San Miguel (the bell tower of San Miguel), interlude for plucked bells and gongs. Processed pizzicatos and bowed harmonics improvise their meditative vision of a fictitious cathedral.
- Las Nubes de Magallanes - nocturno patagónico. The “nubes” (clouds) are two galaxies visible only from the South hemisphere and named after the famous explorer who sighted them in the early XVI century. The lonely vastness of the cold desert of Patagonia sparkles under the nightly glitter of the ‘Clouds’ transfixed here by the violin.
- La milonga rota (milonga flips over). Dancers with their feet in the air attempt to perform the intricacies of this difficult and sensual dance. The music is not what they expect. The rhythm is deconstructed and repeatedly interrupted by live and processed violin bursts. Granulation and spectral filtering of the violin make up the electronic part.
processed soprano voice
Erie Mills, Sorpano
The composition is inspired by traditional liturgical texts and created in response to the horror of human violence and suffering in the early 2000s. It is a contemplative and introspective exploration of the impressions suggested by the vocal rendition. All source materials are derived from the recording of the original tune used to set the Latin text and sung, unaccompanied, by acclaimed soprano Erie Mills (Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Vienna State Opera among her main performance stages). The voice and the pandiatonic melody are treated to various technical and musical processes in an attempt to affect the perception of dramatic content. The work follows a loosely programmatic scheme modeled after the texts:
Prologue of the sabres of war
Tu pauperum refugium refuge of the poor
…Languorum remedium alleviator of weakness
…Spes exulum, fortitudo laborantium hope for the erring, strength of the weak
…Veritas et vita truth, life
Postlude - pax in terra
CD Recording: EAM-2006, Music from SEAMUS. Volume 15
Quartet & Electronic Sounds
CD Recording: Music from SEAMUS. Volume 9, EAM-2000
Matices Coincidentes [Converging Colors] is scored for flute, clarinet, violoncello, piano and electronic sounds. The title is derived from the use of perspective in painting and architecture where lines coincide or converge to give the illusion of depth. One of the principal ideas concerns the exploration of timbral change of the live instruments when their musical lines coincide and fuse with that of the electronic sounds. Electronic sounds are employed to transform the sonic characteristics of the instruments and to alter the perception of timbral amalgamation. FM synthesis and samples (brief recordings) of the instruments of the ensemble, processed and mixed, make up the prerecorded part.
Three FOlk Dances
Inspired by Argentine folk music and commissioned by the Composers Conference & Chamber Music Players, Wellesley, MA.
Music for Alto Saxophone & Electronic Sounds
John Sampen, Alto Saxophone
CD Recording: The Electric Saxophone, Capstone Records CPS-8636 ( Amazon.com ]
Concerto for Chamber Ensemble & Electronic Sounds
Recorded at GRM - Radio France. Performers: Ensamble Fa, Daniel Kawka, Conductor.
In this commission from the International Computer Music Association the ensemble interacts with the electronics in contrapuntal textures and semi-static planes. The electronic sounds modulate the sonic characteristics of the ensemble and extend, virtually, the capability of the instrumental resources beyond their idiosyncratic limitations. The electronic part is made out of synthesized sounds and samples of representative instruments from the ensemble as well as vocal sounds representative of the composer.