16 JULY 2020 / CHAMBER
I started work on Tentet during Singapore’s lockdown period. Many feelings of isolation, and undecidedness found their way into this piece, but there are also many moments of optimism and hope. Many of my musical influences at that time were coming from the shelves of YST’s music library. I would spend hours finding pieces I had never seen nor heard before, and reading through the scores. After a lot of input like this I find I often have a lot of output, and Tentet came from one of these high output periods.
Tentet is written in five contrasting movements. The first movement, a sonata form, opens with an atmospheric introduction that introduces pitch material and rhythmic motives that are used throughout the other movements. French horn plays the first proud theme, which is then picked up by bassoon and strings. This theme is immediately developed and other melodies spark from this. The movement progresses in this way, the tempo and momentum become more and more frantic until finally they give way to a half-time feel recapitulation.
Movement two features the pianist throughout. It sounds not so much like a concerto with a solo pianist, as much as the pianist taking the ensemble through it’s own adventure. There is a five chord progression first presented by the winds and percussion, that the piece is moulded around. The overall feeling of this movement is one of floating in a surreal setting of beauty and mystery.
Percussion takes the lead in movement three while the piano rests. There are two characters in this movement. The first is a percussion led melody punctuated by quirky percussive jokes. The second is more like ambient drone music characterised by long held notes, and slowly changing harmonies.
Movement four acts as a light intermezzo before the weightier final movement. A small jazz combo made up of percussion, cello, and piano set the pace in this 7/4 dance.
The final movement thrives on an interlocking rhythm that opens the movement. You will hear this rhythm twisted and manipulated throughout the movement. This rhythm is contrasted by more expansive, resonant material that really explores the sound of space and emptiness in music. Through careful, thin scoring the feeling of openness, and uncrowded simple lines, show-off individual colours of instruments and subtle combined textures. The piece concludes in a flurry of notes and ends with a furious chop.
MIDI GENERATED PREVIEW
Flute [= piccolo/alto flute]
B♭ Clarinet [= bass clarinet]