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WARNING : Ear Classification Rating - contains mild to strong dissonance and no tune you can hum. Not useable in a trailer context. Recommended ear strength - seasoned 20thC+ (and curious, adventurous ears).

Just joking, but you have been warned. A response to Bach from my point of view, here are 3 of a planned 12 (8 done so far). The Preludes generally obsess over a technical pianism and limited material whilst the fugues get their subject from something in their accompanying Prelude. The piano writing is virtuosic but not in a showy way and as the warning said, the harmony hovers between mild and strong dissonance with excursions into both territories.

Each pair is around 5mins long, so I hope some will find the time to listen and comment....(oh hell)

BTW, if you don't like them, have a go at HS and Gregorio for making me post them...it's all their fault... :-)

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Here are the scores.......

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Well.

I've said before that I don't listen to piano music, fugues or overly dissonant music. That's not the ideal trifecta to approach these pieces with, but I've also said that I can respect the form of a genre I don't listen to or would be unable to write.

As ever with your works posted here, there's just enough tonal harmonic language to keep me grounded in the piece whilst you explore your "deeply personal harmonic approach to expression and structural function", and for some reason my quoting you sounded sarcastic. Sorry. As you said, the music ventures into strong dissonance, but it doesn't have the hallmark of contemporary dissonant approaches that I really don't get on with. Some dissonant work simply sounds like random clusters and keyboard attacks - yours, whilst outside my comfort zone, has a control to it. That rising chord and scale passage from 4.30 in C is a good example of what I mean.

D was my favourite, especially the flowing arpeggiated opening. In 1.51 onwards, before the staccato fugal section, I'm reminded somehow of the Snowman's scoring but can't remember at which point. 4.17 to end was kind of Prokofieven (that's a word) with the awesome low ostinato call and response. That'd make a hell of an orchestrated moment.

Just in terms of my own listening preference, it's the piano that obstacles me most - C arranged and performed by Dream Theater would literally melt the crowd. And my listening preference isn't your concern, so carry on.

Somewhat unrelated, I had to go to your site to make sure I was quoting you correctly and heard some of your string trio pieces (from Partita Concordia) that I'd either missed or are new uploads - really wonderful writing and, I'm always a little ashamed to say, more to my taste.

EXCELLENT..EXQUISITE--too damn good Mike :)

I enjoyed these tremendously, (the preludes more than the fugues :)) and the performance just enhances this great music.

Well done!

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Hi Mike!

I listened to the D  P&F.  The prelude has beautifully iridescent, and subtle  harmonic movement.. A pleasure to hear!  The only question that came up for me was the possibility of what mutating the triplet rhythm a bit might (here and there) do to compliment your complex harmonic.. Just a question.  Really beautiful!

The Fugue has a wonderfully urgent quality. I felt some Shostakovich and Bartok  there, in the best sense! Loved all the dramatically dynamic shifts. Just bursting with vitality!

I will listen to the others next break..

Thanks for posting.  (much food for thought to ponder here.)

@Dave,
I'm always impressed by your openness to at least counternance music that is not your to your usual proclivity. Irrespective of your kind comments, which mean a lot, your ears and attitude are a rarity and an asset. Thanks for listening. Btw, somedays, I just want to listen to music thats not such hard work too, no shame there mate, tha's why I wrote the Partita.
@Bob,
Your capitals gave me a big, BIG boost. Compliments from the man with steel ears ( thats a compliment!) are encouraging as I forage around on the periphery of a world you know very well.
@ Gregorio
You might just have an alternative take on those triplets. I got obsessed with a Bachian like insistence on the motif of the accompaniment and could perhaps remember your words in future as they open the door to more flexibility. What's your take, as a pianist on the way I notated the fugues, I think they are playable and I suppose I could have notated in 2 staves with lh and rh directions, but opted for clarity in the linear thinking?..controversial huh?

Listened to D.  Surprisingly (for me), I actually liked it.  The prelude sounded like trickling water to me, with an eerie overall feel to it.  I had a bit of a hard time following the score, though I attribute that entirely to my lousy (read: non-existent) sight-reading skills.

The fugue... wow!  I actually liked it a lot.  The subject has a strong, clearly-recognizable rhythm, and I liked how you developed it and alluded to it in various places, especially the way you actually modified the rhythm but it remains recognizable.  Especially liked the buildup from about m.52 to m.57.  The ending I found rather interesting, quoting the signature rhythm of the subject, yet, as it sounded to me, stepping on the brakes and quickly grinding to a halt.  I was half-expecting a more traditional ending with strong closure, but I think what you have here works equally well (and probably suits the character of the work better).

FWIW, me being merely an amateur pianist (and not a very good one), I'm inclined to say putting it on two staves would be more helpful in terms of knowing which notes are intended to be played by which hand... but OTOH, the complexity in some places may be better rendered in 3-staff format as you have here.  In any case, even as early as Rachmaninoff 3-staff notation for piano has been employed to notate particularly complex textures for the sake of clarity, so I suppose ultimately it's up to you.

From the POV of analysis, though, your 3-staff format is certainly easier to read, as they show the lines much more clearly than if the middle "voice" has to keep switching between upper/lower staves. (Not to mention it can be a pain to write it that way, depending on how well your notation software handles this sort of thing.)

P.S.S., I also heard a bit of Shostakovich in there, as well as Khatchaturian.  Of course, with the usual disclaimers that impressions are merely impressions, probably heavily biased and colored by my limited listening repertoire when it comes to non-traditional harmony.

Glad to hear it Mike--you really did some job with these pieces :)

Thanks, steel eared Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Mike Hewer said:


@Bob,
Your capitals gave me a big, BIG boost. Compliments from the man with steel ears ( thats a compliment!) are encouraging as I forage around on the periphery of a world you know very well.

Listened to no.5 on F.  The prelude is quiet, contemplative, and oddly tonal to my ears, or straying rather near tonality, quite to my surprise. Not that it's a bad thing or anything like that, but I was a bit surprised to hear something like that after reading your "scary" warnings.

The fugue is more jagged, and energetic. Nice development of the motifs in the subject.  I did find this subject a little harder to recognize compared to your fugue on D, though. (Could just be my personal bias, mind you.)  And I wasn't quite sure what to think of the syncopated 16-8-16 figure that appeared around m.39 and then gradually became a prominent motif, almost rivalling the subject.  Sounds almost jazz-like.  Anyway, I liked how you have a fake stretto with the subject's opening motif in m.57 leading into a climactic descent.  And then at the end, I felt like I've been trolled... what's up with this F major triad at the very end?! Isn't this supposed to be atonal stuff?? :-P  (Kidding... I think that's a rather clever tie-in to the pseudo-tonality of the prelude. Very interesting.)

Listened to no.6 on C.  I like the prelude, fast and virtuosic, and full of energy.  I notice that your preludes tend to have more-or-less the same structure: theme > slight development > theme > longer development > climax > pause > theme > conclusion.   Is this intentional?  I like the bold, percussive ending.

The fugue subject has a nice character to it, and I like how you thicken the texture in the exposition almost in the "traditional" way.  Nice augmentation around mm. 132-135.   The slower passage mm.147-155 I didn't quite get the first time round, but on the second listen, I see how you've cleverly morphed the subject into a different, but still somewhat recognizable rhythm. Very nice.   I like how mm.169 onwards pulls the fugue back to the motifs from the prelude, and concludes with the same percussive ending. Very nice wrap-up of the prelude/fugue pair.

Hi Mike. Looking at the score for D - it all looks very playable.. (though challenging).. Having 3 clefs for the fugue - does make things visually clear, but unnecessary for much of it - (it is easier to sight read with 2 clefs though one would quickly adjust) - But 3 clefs are definitely helpful/necessary in certain spots..

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