Levels was written in 2007 for the Post Quartet (Mizuka Yamamoto, Jennifer Allum violins, Richard Jones viola, Becky Dixon cello). The viola player had injured his left hand, and the quartet asked several composers to write pieces using only the right hand. This effectively entailed playing only the open strings, and I decided to tune the 16 strings of the quartet to 15 different pitches (one pitch shared between 2nd violin and cello).
The piece is harmonically static, using sustained sounds of different lengths (a few pizzicati occurring towards the end). The fixed array of 15 pitches is heard in different sequences and combinations. The process can be likened to that of a searchlight illuminating different parts of a façade, which otherwise remains in darkness.
SYZYGY DUETS for flute and clarinet
Syzygy was originally written in 1991 for oboe, clarinet and two trombones.
It consists of eight short interrelated sections; the title refers to the pairing of complementary elements—pairs of instruments, pairs of interlocking pitch-groups, pairs of sections within the work.
The two Syzygy Duets (Nos. 2 and 7 of the original set) are performed here, with flute substituting for oboe, by Nancy Ruffer (flute) and Andrew Sparling (clarinet).
BARCAROLLE for alto flute was written in 1989 for Nancy Ruffer, who plays it in this recording.
These performances were recorded at my 70th birthday concert in December 2008.
released March 30, 2016
Post Quartet: Mizuka Yamamoto, Jennifer Allum, violins; Riichard Jones, viola; Becky Dixon, cello