Precipice : for oboe and piano
by Elliott Gyger (2010)
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Precipice takes the idea of the pièce de concours as its starting point, but arranges its various components into an unexpectedly dark narrative. In addition to its topographical meaning, there is a less common definition of "precipice" as a precarious state or situation of great peril: connotations of danger and excessive speed (as in the adjective "precipitous") are also relevant to the mood of the work. The oboe here is intrinsically a plaintive, lyrical instrument - agility is attainable but doesn't come naturally, and always seems vulnerable to collapse.
The quick first movement, 'At the edge', resembles a variation set of accumulating tensions, in which the oboe, initially dance-like, is placed under ever greater pressure, reaching breaking point towards the end. The piano accompaniment is, by turns, laconically indifferent and downright hostile. The second movement, 'After the fall', follows without a break. Here the two instruments attempt to reassemble a musical line from pulverized fragments, reaching in the process some sort of uneasy truce.
Instrumentation: Oboe, piano.
Duration: 12 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Sydney Conservatorium of Music.. Commissioned as part of the "101 Compositions for 100 Years" project.
Performances of this work
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