Archbold, Paul (2003) Traces. (mixed chamber ensemble). score and compact disc.


Traces was commissioned as the new work in a composer profile concert in the Klangspuren series of the Munich Biennale. The concert programme was devised to set my work in the context of music which had inspired and influenced it: for example, the programme included Debussy’s Étude pour piano ‘Pour les agréments’ which inspired the use of the arabesque in Traces. The harmonic basis of Traces is a typical sonority of Debussy, a major 13th chord (taken from b1 of the étude). This is refracted as a series of five note pitch-class-sets which are permutations of the interval set <1,2,2,3>. Traces is concerned with my ongoing research into the development of contrapuntal procedures first employed in my Piano Trio (1999, score available on request) to integrate simple major triads with more complex and dissonant sonorities to create a rich and luminous harmonic palette. In the first movement these contrapuntal procedures focus on the four-part canon at the unison which is combined with an isorhythmic structure with prolation 12:8:6:4:3:2 to transform the triadic focus of the opening melody into a rapid and intense chromatic hocket. The second movement develops the melody in a series of arabesques traced from abrupt piano chords, with a fluidity of texture inspired by the Debussy étude. The arabesques become more extreme in melodic range and temporal variation passing rapidly from instrument to instrument, stretching the virtuosity of the unconducted ensemble.

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