for solo horn
- composition date: 1997 / rev.1999
- duration: 8 min.
- dedication: «to my friend Abel Pereira, in deep friendship, and in recognition to his exceptional talent»
- premiere: [date and location unknown] | Abel Pereira (horn)
first documented presentation: 10/May/2008 | Porto, Casa da Música/Sala 2 | Nuno Vaz (horn)
Hornpipe, for solo horn, is the first of a cycle of works for various solo instruments, which already includes Chirimia (2002/rev.2012) for solo oboe [or soprano saxophone], Alboque (2011), for solo clarinet, and Conn-O-Sax (2015), for solo alto saxophone. For the near future, other pieces are planned, namely for marimba, flute and bassoon.
The main feature of this cycle is the extreme level of virtuosity required to the player, be it by the use of extended techniques amongst the most modern for each instrument (such as extreme registers, quarter-tones, flatterzunge, multiphonics, etc …), or the endurance needed for the performance. But all this is allied with writing that is deliberately fantastical and, at least apparently, very free, almost improvisatory, despite the extremely rigorous notation. Thus one of the goals of these pieces is also to appeal to the performer’s imagination.
Being a truly work in progress project (that I intend to develop during my career as a composer), this cycle immediately brings to memory one very famous predecessor, the Sequenzas by Luciano Berio. In fact I do not refuse their influence on my own solo oeuvres, especially the more “lyrical” side of Berio’s writing; actually in my “solos” I too tried to mingle, amidst all the virtuosity, a certain lyricism in the musical language that perhaps stems from my Mediterranean origins and the natural brightness so typical of the southern Europe countries.
Specifically the term hornpipe refers, according to Michael Kennedy’s «The Oxford Dictionary of Music», to: 1) an obsolete Celtic instrument, consisting of a wooden pipe and a simple reed, ending in a French-horn-like bell; 2) a sailor’s solo dance dating from the late 17th century, and eventually accompanied by the instrument described above, from which most likely the baroque hornpipes derived. Purcell and Händel are some of the most distinguished composers to have written hornpipes, and the Alla Hornpipe from the last «Water Music» suite is probably the most famous example of its kind.
My personal approach to hornpipe takes precisely the perspective of the solo dance accompanied by an instrument, being, in this case, dancer and instrument one and the same person.
Hornpipe is dedicated to Abel Pereira, a long date friend and a much praised virtuoso of the instrument. It is also my recognition to his exceptional talent.
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