Riffraction : for clarinet, string quartet and piano
by Mark Grandison (2007)
Performance by Sydney Symphony Fellows from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 50.
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Library shelf no. CD 2624 [Available for loan]
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Riffraction is a triple pun: the work is based on riffs with pop/funk-inspired rhythmic inflections; these riffs are progressively distorted by processes analogous to the way light is refracted when it travels through a medium of differing densities, like glass or water; and all this leads to plenty of musical action. In spirit, Riffraction is a scherzo, though one who's form and temperament is twice interrupted. Three brisk riff-based sections are separated by two hovering interludes, darker in character and offering temporary respite from the otherwise manic surface energy.
The clarinet is often featured as a virtuoso soloist, with the piano and string quartet at times purely accompanimental, as though converging into a multi-limbed single instrument. At other times all six instruments are equal partners in polyrhythmic and contrapuntal textures.
A driving factor in composing this piece was squeezing more out of less - for example, with the exception of parts of the interludes, the work is based on the same scale throughout. And often one riff will have derived from an earlier one, rather than presenting entirely new material. For each section, the incessant repetition and gradual metamorphosis of each riff offers a kaleidoscopic viewing of a persistent musical object, fundamentally the same and yet apparently ever different.
Instrumentation: Clarinet in B flat, 2 violins, viola, cello, piano.
Duration: 15 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional
First performance: by Sydney Omega Ensemble — 17 Aug 07. Alexander Hall, Kambala School, Rose Bay, Sydney
Revised and re-titled in 2011
Originally titled Riffs and interludes.
Revised in 2011
Also exists in expanded version for: Flute, clarinet, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano.
Performances of this work
19 Aug 2017: at Australia Ensemble - Schubert's Octet / Grandison's Riffraction (Sir John Clancy Auditorium). Featuring Australia Ensemble.
14 Aug 14: Australian Music Days, MLC Burwood, NSW. Featuring Sydney Symphony Fellows.
9 Aug 14: Methodist Ladies' College, Burwood, NSW. Featuring Sydney Symphony Fellows.
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