Awkward Dances and Passacaglia

Year: 2021

Instrumentation: Fl, Cl, Trb, Pno, 2 Perc, Acc, 2 Vlns, Vla, Vcl, Cb

First performance by Klangforum Wien, conductor: Bas Wiegers - 16.10.2021, Donaueschingen (Germany)

Other performances:

  • Klangforum Wien, conductor: Bas Wiegers - 18.10.2021, Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna (Austria)

Awkward Dances and Passacaglia comes out of an attempt to compose a dance suite. While I found the form of a suite too restricting, a medley of dance-like fragments started to emerge as a musical form. The first fragments address features that are normally associated with "danceability" like regularity and rhythmic predictability. Then, the chain of dances gradually moves towards non-traditional embodiments of abstract music. "Dance" here is not only music that prompts concrete motoric bodily response, but rather a musical structure that seeks self-choreographed listeners and allows unexpected reverberations of sound and movement.
A second thread running through the piece takes the form of a Passacaglia. It is based on the famous line from the fourth movement of Brahms's 4th Symphony with two minor changes: instead of ascending from the note E to A# through the minor scale, it uses 3/4 tone intervals, and instead of the high B-low B-E cadence that concludes Brahms's line, it evaporates in each iteration of its appearance. Each reoccurrence of the line provides a centre of gravity within the flow of the dance fragments and acts as a counterpart to the somewhat chaotic nature of the collection of fragments.
Thinking in terms like embodiment and reoccurrence is a new perspective in my work and marks an attempt to shift my focus from subjective expressivity to the basic nature of music as a medium, in the hope to find a new kind of sincerity.