Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Munirando II

This work builds on the precedent of Munirando for clarinet and piano (Park Lane Group commission 1995), implying the development of a series of pieces under this title, for a solo instrument with piano. The approach in both pieces is virtuosic and based on the persistence of one type of flow, relying on regular and persistent rhythmic motion. The obvious model in this respect is Bach. 

To invoke Bach as an influence may seem unoriginal, unless one remembers that regularity of rhythmic flow has been absent from most of the classical music of the last 100  years. Regular rhythm is generally perceived to be at odds with prevailing compositional pursuits focused on an aesthetic of the discontinuous. The exceptions have tended to be pulse-based music from minimalists and post-minimalists, where regularity approaches mechanicity, and where harmony and other pitch-driven developmental processes are de-prioritised.

Munirando II seeks to instal in the listener’s mind a subdivision of the beat into five semiquavers as the norm, adhering to this sub-count so consistently that any departure from it will sound irregular or, as the term for exceptional beat subdivisions goes, ‘irrational’. 

My intention is to achieve the above without attracting undue attention to the rhythmic proposition, that is, while ensuring a natural flow that steers the listener’s perception along a middle course. In other words, the aspiration is to produce a rounded piece, not a one-issue or one-technique statement.  

The technical challenges posed by the piece caused its rejection by its commissioner (New York 1998). Subsequent rejections occasioned incremental simplification of the piece, but even in its 2002 version it was declined by several violinists. Eventually Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea premièred it in London in 2009.

© Agustín Fernández 2013