Archive for May, 2013

The New Complexity? Phaw. Old Hat!

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

The third chunk of the 3rd movement is now complete. About 19 minutes. having returned to work which included a move of office across London and the kids returning to school it’s taken me seven weeks. I’m now up to 52 minutes so nearly at the half way mark.

I’m not sure when the term “New Complexity” was first applied to the works of Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnisy, James Dillon and Richard Barrett, but the Jami Symphony preceded them all and there are few pieces of even these composers which match the complexity of the Jami Symphony, except perhapsĀ  Ferneyhough’s La terre est un homme – which only lasts 13 minutes!

A moment in this third part illustrates this complexity and I thought I would break it down between the various sections of the orchestra to demonstrate not only the complexity but the difficulty I am having in trying to make it as clear as possible. I work up each section one at a time woodwind, brass, chorus, strings, keyboards and percussion. Within each section I have to make choices about which part should be prominent and then which section should be prominent. Inevitably much is lost to the background wash, which is disappointing but choices have to be made. This section reaches a brief climax at roughly the overall mezzoforte to forte level and will be a long way from the massive climax at the end.

I had attempted to describe the complexity but decided it was easier to show a snippet from the score and then a sound clip of each orchestral section and the whole orchestra. So here is a page from this extract. And here are the Sound files for the woodwind, brass, chorus, strings, keyboards and percussion and finally the whole shebang.

As you will hear an awful lot of the detail is lost and in this section I have concentrated on the chorus at the start but allowed the brass to come through at the climax. I’ve made sure the tam-tam is heard because it is so rarely used but the woodwind detail is completely subsumed as is the piano (which hardly gets a look in in this work!). The strings are omnipresent! Whether these are the right choices who’s to say?

I still think the overall sound wash is exciting and there are plenty of places where lots of filligree detail can be heard.