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Program note: Adjacent Rooms Michael Smetanin

  • Sydney Spring
  • Source: Sydney Spring International Festival of New Music 13 - 14 1993

MICHAEL SMETANIN Adjacent Rooms (1992)

Almost the first piece that Michael Smetanin now recognises is a work for three sopranos and piano. After that, the human voice disappeared from his work for almost a decade, but in the last few years it has resurfaced, but in much more vigorous form (notably in the song-cycle Skinless Kiss of Angels). Not for Smetanin the introspective windings of the post-Webern voice: his singers 'singout' in a way that reminds us of his Russian ancestry.Despite its six voices, the vocal part of Adjacent Rooms is essentially an expanded monody which occasionaly gets out of phase with itself - there is no conventional polyphony (except, notionally, with the instrumentalists), and even block harmony are rare. The form of the piece is largely shaped by the 10 quatrains of Daniel Keene's poem, though most quatrains are preceded or followed by multiple echoes of individual words or phrases, and a chant-like passage after the sixth quatrain actually runs tlrough the previOus quatrains in reverse order. The last four quatrains form an extended coda, in which the pulsating rhythms of the earlier part of the worksuddenly cease, only to make discreet reappearances towatds the end. Adjacent Rooms was composed during Smetanin's composer-residency with the Song Company in 1992, assisted by the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council,


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