bass clarinet duo, ensemble ( and live electronics
Commissioned and premiered by Stroma, cond. Hamish McKeich (soloists: Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalm)

The opening impression is of a constellation of grainy noise-bands, establishing a grey-hued “ground” for the unfolding of the musical drama. Aided by live electronics, the ensemble accumulates thick, out-of-focus granular strata, cut across by a series of high-contrast, sharp-edged tones from trumpet and clarinet, and stippled by percussive clusters from piano, xylophone and harp. As the piece develops, these opposed layers begin to transform into rough-hewn melodic fragments, which become gradually submerged by strange, otherworldly trills and tremolos from the bass clarinets.

The title of the piece refers to its unusual method of construction. Rather than groping blindly through the work’s creation by relying solely on my instinct, I devised a rigourous framework to control the unfolding of a pool of autonomous gestures (these are the “icons” of the title), in a not dissimilar manner to the rigourous perspectival techniques employed by Renaissance painters to control their brushwork. Indeed, I found that, in spite of the systematic nature of this framework, it liberated the creation of a free, organic stream of expressive gestural and textural writing, allowing my intuition to be focused on a much more microstructural level than is usually the case. The resulting freedom of surface detail I feel transcends the otherwise constraining “artifice” of the system.


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