CLOSE IN, for solo flute and trombone quartet (8:54)
Date: November 6, 2015
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Written with Marianne Gedigian in mind.
"Written in December 2002, CLOSE IN was inspired by the planet Mercury and its relationship to the astrological sign it rules, Gemini. Observing this 'speedy' little planet quickly reveals how it related to and resembles is astrological counterpart.....
The planet Mercury, being the closest planet to the sun, completes its orbit in about 88 earth days as compared to the Earth's 365 days. However, because Mercury is so close to the sun, rotation on its own axis is remarkably slow. One day on Mercury is almost as long as its year. Two and a half Mercury days equal one of its years!
Another interesting dual feature of the planet Mercury is its extreme temperatures. Because of its incredibly slow rotation, the side facing the sun is a broiling 800 degrees Fahrenheit, while the side away from the sun is over 300 degrees below zero!
...CLOSE IN was written with Marianne Gedigian in mind. She is a marvelous flutist and musician and she world premiered this piece. She is also a wonderful Gemini!
Who would have thought that flute and trombone quartet would go well together? But this mixed chamber group does work! The trombones add a rich, varied texture and the flute soars over the top, in both soft and loud sections.
The flute part for CLOSE IN is very 'hot' or 'cold,' depending on the different aspects of Mercury that are being expressed. In the very first entrance, the flute is expressing its powerfully close relationship with the sun in the form of its brightness. Continuous fast passages, with big interval leaps, pose a challenge technically and musically. These 'Mercury passages' have their own rhythmic nuances that need to be present so that the quick sequences do not sound blurry. During the "cold side of the planet" section, the flute needs to 'bend' the pitch down a quarter-tone, for certain indicated notes. This is done more through connecting to the sense of 'frigidly cold' than by worrying about exact pitch....
The trombone quartet is called upon to use a broad range of techniques in this piece, including: Multiphonics, quick and slow glissing, various uses of the Harmon mute, flutter tongue, and the application of several different mutes—straight and Harmon mute, as well as, for some players, cup and bucket mutes.
The trombones, generally, except at letter F, represent the sun in various aspects. At the very beginning of the piece, the straight mute is used to emphasize 'sun force.' Players will want to let the natural brilliance of the metal straight mute help express this powerful force. The nature of the forte-pianos should be bright and immediate in their impact....
The glisses involve a broad range of speeds. Some are very fast and short, as in measure 15 and elsewhere. In other instances, they are slow. At letter D, they are meant to sound like the Doppler Effect. This sound/feeling helps enhance the sense of fast motion in the flute.
The range for the trombones is demanding note-wise, as well as in the dynamic contrasts. The balance between the flute and the trombone quartet should be determined by what the music itself calls for—not according to some other 'classic' idea of 'good blend' and 'balance.' Rather, let the atmosphere be the government. If 'it' is happening, you will feel it...."
- from the "Introduction"
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