This is not a Passacaglia
for symphonic band
- composition date: 2022
- duration: ca. 18 min.
- commission: Banda Sinfónica Portuguesa [Portuguese Symphonic Band]
- premiere: 11/September/2022 | Porto, Casa da Música |
Portuguese Symphonic Band / dir. Luís Carvalho
- detailed orchestration:
picc./ 3 fl. (3.=alto flute)/ 2 ob./ eng. hr./ 2 fg./ contrafg [opt.]/ Eb-clar./ clar.: I, II & III in Bb (min. 4 each)/ bass clar./ contrabass clar. [opt.]/ sop. sax/ 2 alto saxs/ 2 ten. saxs/ bar. sax/ bass sax [opt.]/ harp/ piano/ celesta [opt.]/ 4 hr./ 3 trpt./ 2 flug. (= trp. 4. & 5.)/ 3 ten. trbn./ bass trbn.)/
2 euph./ tubas (min. 2)/ string bass [opt.]/ timp./ 5 perc.
This is not a Passacaglia is, indeed, a passacaglia! The irony of the title pays homage to one of my favourite painters of the Surrealist movement, René Magritte (1898–1967), and his iconic work La Trahison des Images (The Treachery of Images), better known as Ceci n’est pas une pipe (This is Not a Pipe). Magritte’s refined and biting creative humour has always fascinated me, and even though my musical work in no way attempts to represent that (or any other) painting by the Belgian master, I find some points of convergence of my musical language with characteristics of Magritte and Surrealism in general, namely the use of traditional elements, but not aligned in an orthodox manner. Thus, my Passacaglia, which is not but it is, formally builds on the traditional principle of repetition of an ostinato bass over which variations are successively built, although I do not use this technique in a linear or strict way. For instance, the ostinato bass cycle itself, which initially serves as the basis for the musical development, is freely adulterated throughout the piece, not only by circulating between different instruments and changing registers, but also metamorphosing continuously in its structure, tempo, rhythm, direction, etc., even becoming a sumptuous melody for a long alto flute solo. By revisiting in the 21st century this very ancient musical form (the origins of the passacaglia go back to the early 17th century in Spain), I sought a symbiosis between tradition and modernity that, like Magritte’s pipe, proposes a game of illusions. After all, being intrinsically ethereal, Music is perhaps the most illusory of the arts.
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