Orchestra (2222.2210.timp.strings) – 20 minutes
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been set to music many times. Composers, including Purcell, Mendelssohn and Britten, have thoroughly explored the rich dramatic and symbolic world of Shakespeare’s play. My interludes make no attempt at retelling the play’s action but instead comment on background elements: thematic ideas that lurk beneath the surface but are not themselves characters in the conventional sense.
My choosen subjects – the forest, the night, the moon, and the magic flower – play a silent but crucial role throughout the play: the night and forest providing a time and place for the main action, the moon silently watching over, and the flower acting as the primary agent of change, mischief and transformation.
The interludes are specifically meant to accompany Mendelssohn’s incidental music. Inserted into the Mendelssohn, the interludes comment on both Shakespeare’s world and Mendelssohn’s music. Drawing from a broad palette of extended techniques and conventional orchestral writing, my interludes mingle original material with transformed fragments from the Mendelssohn, injecting these disparate shards into evocative textures of unusual sounds and noises.
The work has yet to be recorded, but you can listen to demos of each movement.
For the first movement, The Forest, I borrowed a small fragment of accompanimental figuration from the Overture. The figure appears throughout The Forest as a kind of distorted echo of the original.
Four Midwinter Interludes – The Forest
For the second movement, The Moon, I time stretched the first 12 bars of the Scherzo. The sound file is played back on a portable mp3 player (iphone or ipod, for example) by every member of the orchestra. The effect is a massive surround sound haze of slowly changing harmony, the original scherzo barely recognizable.
Four Midwinter Interludes – The Moon
As the demo suggests, The Flower, jump cuts between various movements of the Mendelssohn. I recreated the effect for this demo by using an actual recording of the work.
Four Midwinter Interludes – The Flower
The Night borrows a melancholy flute tune found in one of Mendelssohn’s melodramas, the music that accompanies stage action, and takes it in a different direction.
Four Midwinter Interludes – The Night
Premiered 2.10.13 at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA