July 14, 2010 2:18 PM

I thought I'd throw a few older compositions up here for fun. This is a short piano trio I composed in 2004. Lots of extended techniques and other academic foolery. But it still rocks a little, when it does.

posted by Lutoslawski (2 comments total)

What's the story on the recording? The performers sound like they're really committed to the challenge. Saxophone isn't a favorite instrument of mine at all but every once in a while I enjoy it in small chamber groups like this (and this is one of those whiles). I go on about Kalevi Aho a lot, but he uses saxophone in a quintet along with bassoon, viola, cello, and bass that came to mind when I heard this, and also a fairly recent concerto for sax quartet which I haven't heard yet but am itching to.

What I like about this in common with the Aho is that it maintains a good sense of line and forward motion; I get impatient with too much stasis which is easy to slip into when the harmonic resources are this broad, but this just has excellent momentum without slipping over the line into being hectic. It has moments that sound borderline-improvised but still sound controlled and purposeful.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:18 AM on July 19, 2010

I really had amazing performers on this recording, which, as a composer of 'new' music, is the greatest blessing you can have. Man, it's so tough to find performers committed to a piece of new music - even at music school. The players were all students at NEC, where I was studying at the time. It was recorded live at a concert there.

I'm a sax player myself and I used to write a lot more for saxophone. The older I get it seems the less I like it. You rarely see it in a piano trio, and I thought it might pair well with the cello. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it just causes a huge imbalance that's pretty hard to rectify. The cello gets lost quite a bit; then again, the cellist I had, while incredible, was not as aggressive a cellist as I would have liked. I always want my string players to play their instruments like they're jimmy page - and they always look at me like, 'you want me to play how on my 100k cello???" That's fair.

Interesting that you note the borderline-improvised sound - I was going for a bit of that. There's a lot of really strange mixed meter and such, which I used precisely to try and keep a momentum going without it becoming monotonous (as sometimes riffy-based compositions do - and I'm guilty of doing). There are actually a few moments in the piece that are improvised. The opening saxophone solo is unmetered and pretty free. There's also a point towards the end that's improvised, giving each instrument a set of notes to play randomly from for a given amount of time (I think it's eight seconds). I was sort of trying to contrast some of that looser content with the extremely rigid and technically challenging meter changes in the rest of the piece.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:50 PM on July 20, 2010

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