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Re-inventions (recorder with string orchestra)

by Elena Kats-Chernin (2004)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

Performance by Alicia Crossley, Diana Weston from the CD Blue skies, magpies and goldfish

This sample is of the Recorder with harpsichord version of this work

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Re-inventions / Elena Kats-Chernin.

Library shelf no. CD 1489 [Available for loan]



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Re-inventions : based on Two-part inventions of J.S. Bach / Elena Kats-Chernin

Library shelf no. Q 784.728364/KAT 1 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

When the virtuoso recorder player Genevieve Lacey asked me to write her a piece, we decided to meet for a "brainstorming" session, and at one point she unintentionally played something reminiscent of one of the Bach's most famous two part inventions and suddenly this idea took hold- why not reflect on some of the Bach inventions?

I was brought up playing them in my early piano lessons and I found the idea intriguing - not only to re-orchestrate them, but also to give them a different structure and to take them in completely different directions from the originals.

The task turned out to be quite daunting because Bach is Bach, and is sacred ground for all composers. However, in the end I chose six inventions that I found the most inspiring to work with and that would be able to feature different recorders.

The movements are like individual independant pieces and the order of them can be varied as required.

There are six pieces altogether.

No. 1 is based on the invention No. 8, in F major. The challenge here was to write in a such a "bubbly" major key, I usually prefer to write in darker, minor keys. This movement is quite insistent in nature and eventually transforms into a waltz.

No. 2 is based on the invention No. 4, in D minor. Tenor recorder is played here. This one is quite slow and hypnotic and perhaps even a little fragile. The texture of the ascending and descending scales, over just two alternating chords was whatdrew me initially to this invention.

No. 3 is based on the invention No. 13, in A minor, which was my absolute favourite in my childhood.
Violas and Cellos have a repetitive pattern that provides the base for the main material to be built on. It is the machine-like energy of the invention that interested me.

No. 4 is based on the invention No. 1, in C major. In the end I changed the meter of the original to give it an off-balance feel. It is probably the calmest of the 6 pieces.

No. 5 is based on the invention No. 6 in E major and is for the "wind-like" sound of the bass recorder. I changed the key to G minor to fit the sound and mood of the instrument better. It probably has the least in common with the invention it is based on. It is a kind of a mysterious tango in 5/4.

No. 6 is based on the invention No. 10 in G major. I took a direct quote from the very last bar of this invention and just followed my instincts from there. I wanted this movement to be the finale
and quite virtuosic - similar to the overall spirit of the 1st movement.

Work Details

Year: 2004

Instrumentation: Solo recorder (descant, tenor, bass and sopranino), strings.

Duration: 27 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: No. 1 (based on Invention No. 8) -- No. 2 (based on Invention No. 4) -- No. 3 (based on Invention No. 13) -- No. 4 (based on Invention No. 1) -- No. 5 (based on Invention No. 6) -- No. 6 (based on Invention No. 10).

Commission note: Commissioned by Symphony Australia for performance by Queensland Orchestra with funds provided by Australia Council.

A reflection on Bach's most famous Two-Part Inventions.


Article: Can't stop the music
by Jacqui Taffel — © John Fairfax Holdings
Source: Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October 2005 - Spectrum pp.4

Kit: Inventing Elena : the music of Elena Kats-Chernin / music resource kit by Mark Grandison

Performances of this work

9 Apr 2016: at TSO: Bach to the Future (Federation Concert Hall, Hobart). Featuring Marko Letonja, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Genevieve Lacey.

21 Aug 2015: at Peter Sculthorpe's 'Island Songs' (Melba Hall). Featuring Brown and Breen Piano Duo.

14 Aug 2015: at Peter Sculthorpe's 'Island Songs' (Sydney Opera House - Utzon Room). Featuring Brown and Breen Piano Duo.

13 Aug 2015: at Peter Sculthorpe's 'Island Songs' (Sydney Opera House - Utzon Room). Featuring Brown and Breen Piano Duo.

20 Sep 2014: at Bellingen Music Festival 2014 (St Andrew's Hall, Bellingen). Featuring Duo Blockstix.

3 Sep 2014: at Reinventions (Sydney Opera House - Utzon Room). Featuring Flinders Quartet, Genevieve Lacey.

1 Sep 2014: at Reinventions (The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring Genevieve Lacey, Flinders Quartet.

31 Aug 2014: at Reinventions (Montsalvat Barn Gallery). Featuring Flinders Quartet, Genevieve Lacey.

16 Aug 2014: at Synesthesia+ (Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)). Featuring Genevieve Lacey, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

16 Aug 2014: at SYNAESTHESIA+ (Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)). Featuring Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Genevieve Lacey, Marko Letonja.

6 Aug 2014: at Ray Golding Sunset Series - Bach by Candlelight 1 (Townsville Civic Theatre). Featuring Genevieve Lacey, New Zealand String Quartet.

17 Mar 2013: at Snow in Summer (St Luke's Anglican Church (Mosman)).

2 Sep 2012: at Thoroughbass (St Luke's Anglican Church (Mosman)).

3 Apr 2011: at Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Iwaki Auditorium). Featuring Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

6 Mar 2011: at Elena Kats-Chernin (Verbrugghen Hall).

1 May 2010: at Fisher's Ghost Youth Orchestra (Campbelltown Arts Centre). Featuring Fisher's Ghost Youth Orchestra.

26 Mar 2010: at Bach in the Dark (St James Church Crypt). Featuring Rachel Scott, Sally Walker.

28 Aug 2009: at Bach in the Dark (St James Church Crypt). Featuring Sally Walker, Rachel Scott.

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