nicholas cline | composer

Landscapes (2013)

for large orchestra

Program Note:

Landscapes takes the listener through evolving soundscapes, that if listened to with programmatic intent, might suggest the slowness of glaciers or other geomorphic activity. The musical materials are derived from two - perhaps unlikely - sources. The pitches are drawn from my analysis of a toy piano’s overtones (rendered as giant bells played by the orchestra), while the rhythmic-structural grid is an elaboration on Io parto, e non più dissi from Gesualdo’s sixth book of madrigals. The dense, hyper-expressive world of Gesualdo is dilated in Landscapes where sharp contrasts and juxtapositions are translated into slow metamorphoses. The staggered entrances of voices and points of imitation become repeating rhythmic patterns.

Cast in a single movement, Landscapes begins with a series of bell-like chords - an orchestration of a toy piano note transposed down several octaves. Three flutes sparkle above the orchestra in lilting, interlocking patterns. Gradually their energy diminishes and they are folded into a kaleidoscopic texture of dynamic swells. The rhythmic energy returns in a percussive section with shifting tempos and trumpet fanfares that build towards the climax of the piece. The interlocking patterns from the beginning return in the percussion, however they are transformed as a series of alternating sections move progressively toward a noisier, rhythmic character. The two source materials of the piece appear united and unadorned at the close of the piece when the toy piano presents a brief quotation from Gesualdo’s madrigal.

View the score: [PDF]