The piano trio is one of the most classical (and classicist) ensembles in Western music, the chamber music form par excellence of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, a repertoire so weighty that I find the Germanic model – melody, bass and accompaniment, counterpoint and development – often looms over the trios of even the least Teutonic composers. Beautiful as this music is, I found it difficult to relate it to my own aesthetic, so I strove in taking on the form to at least attempt divergence from the archetype, through textures in which the instruments are less hierarchically ordered. The two string instruments rarely feature in any kind of dominant melodic role, rather acting together as extensions of the piano’s resonant impetus, with all three frequently sounding together as a single gesture, like a brushstroke of blurred colors.
The title is in some ways just a chain of words I’ve had in my head for many years, suggesting upper-register music with little bass support and fragile, wispy thoughts – music hovering on a hazy boundary, perpetually on the verge of becoming. It also refers to the journey the piece undergoes, moving from an initial state of harmonic and gestural volatility through obsessive reiteration toward stillness, calm and reflection, closely paralleling the protracted process of writing it. The material only gradually condenses into linear thought after an extended, musing opening. While it does occasionally force a clangorous statement, the piece overall does not strive for direction or conclusiveness, but rather opens outward ambiguously, seeking transition into open space, as if the material were trying to escape itself. A reference to the classical lineage of the ensemble surfaces at one point like a memory, a distorted passage from one of the dedicatee ensemble’s repertoire works that I once heard them describe as “angel music” – a connection to sky and infinity I found too neat to ignore. Instrumentation
vln, vlc, pno Category
Chamber Works Commisioned by / dedications
Commissioned by and dedicated to the KAAÅOS trio
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