In November/December 2017 I was honoured to visit Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, and rehearse my piece for cello and piano, Novella (Chapter One) with Fang Yijia and Li Xinyuan. They premiered the work on the 1st December, in what was one of the most enjoyable and awe-inspiring concerts I’ve ever seen (check out the poster below and you’ll understand why).
Click on the bandcamp link to hear two extracts from the piece.
In recent pieces I have used certain different ways of forming the musical structure. Three or four pieces have been strictly “geometric” or “architectural”, in which I proceeded from a global concept of the structure, and juxtaposed proportionally related blocks of different material to form an overall whole.
In Novella I attempt the opposite: not to think about proportion or length at all, but to proceed organically from start to finish. I tried above all to create a sense of dramatic narrative in the music, as if a story, the details of which we can only vaguely imagine, is being told. In order to do this, I actually wrote down a (true) story, and entirely followed what I felt to be dramatic motives and moods in this actual text. The Chinese title, which translates as Story of the Desolate City, is more suggestive of the scenic context.
In the process I made a valuable personal discovery: to describe (or evoke) things in music takes much longer than it does in language! In seven minutes I only got through less than a quarter of my story—which is why I have added the words chapter one to the title, hoping in future to add the remaining few chapters.