This is my most recently finished work. Incidentally, I also believe this to be my finest compositional achievement to date, and it certainly required more effort than any other piece I've written in the past (I began writing it in April of last year and finished it about a week ago).
The majority of the thematic and harmonic material (particularly in the first and third movements) is all derived from a single four note pitch class set (C, G, Ab, B) whose numerous permutations generate an immense amount of unique ideas throughout the work.
The first movement begins with a hazy Lento passage in which the primary motif (based on the aforementioned pitch set) of the work is introduced by the viola. The music builds to a dramatic "Maestoso" passage. The rest of the introduction maintains a dreamy atmosphere, until the section marked "More Lively," where the piece is quickly whipped up into a frenzy and then scarcely loses momentum from that point forward. The rest of the movement is fast, fantastical and very loosely structured. Here there are definitely some strong influences from composers such as Ravel, Szymanowski, and Sorabji.
After the movement relentlessly pushes forward, it hits its climax and plummets downward, ending with a very short reprise of some of the opening material. The second movement begins shortly thereafter. This movement, a theme and eleven variations, is the "core" of the work, so-to-speak. After introducing the theme, variation one begins, which is based on a two-note viola ostinato which has been described by my composition teacher as "obsessive." Variation two has a very sporadic, unpredictable quality. Variation three (marked "Pizzicato") exclusively uses pizzicato for both the soloist and the string section. Variation four gives the impression of a lop-sided waltz, alternating between 5/8 and 6/8 meters. Variation five ("Ritmico") is faster and, as implied my the marking, quite rhythmic. Variation six is based on fast orchestral arpeggios formed from polychords. Variation seven ("Sostenuto") slows the movement down immensely and is comprised of quiet, sustained sonorities. Variation eight (my personal favorite) is a dream-like arabesque that contains some of my richest harmonic work. Variation nine picks up speed again, leading to a very dense, chromatic variation ("In a confused manner") in which the theme is combined with the first movement's pitch set. Variation eleven ("Maestoso") is the climax of the movement, which is followed by a virtuosic cadenza and a mysterious coda.
The third movement again derives the bulk of its content from the original pitch set, now juxtaposed with the rest of the themes from the first two movements. The majority of the movement is toccata-like (perhaps containing sections somewhat reminiscent of heavy metal music), barring one extended section that occurs before the coda, in which all of the past themes are increasingly broadened and combined simultaneously. After this, the music becomes frenzied once again, reprises the first movement, and then builds fiercely to its final climax.
I've been an immense amount of work into this piece and would appreciate any feedback at all. Even a comment as simple as "I liked it," or "it wasn't really my thing," is helpful. I think I've managed to find a good balance between traditional and modern techniques in this work, as well as a unique harmonic language and a less-than-predictable approach to form. Comments on any of these aspects and my success (or lack thereof) in their utilization are greatly appreciated.
Anyway, on with the music!