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Liquid crystal : for clarinet and piano

by Elliott Gyger (1990)

Liquid crystal


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Liquid crystal : for clarinet and piano / Elliott Gyger.

Library shelf no. 788.62/GYG 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

The composition of Liquid Crystal, from first ideas to completed score, was spread over more than two years (frequently interrupted by work on other pieces). It falls into twelve short sections, ranging in length from about fifteen seconds to a little over two minutes, which are played without a break; to some extent it takes as its model Peter Maxwell Davies' landmark clarinet-and-piano work Hymnos (1967). However, whereas Hymnos deals with unbridled extravagance (and, indeed, violence) of gesture, in Liquid Crystal the extrovert nature of the music is constantly held in check by the iron control of the structure. The twelve sections of the piece are arranged in a cycle of ever-increasing tension, which would be released in the (non-existent) thirteenth section; thus the music is cut short at its high point (the performers are instructed to make the final bars of the piece sound like "a gigantic upbeat").

The title refers both to the sound qualities of much of the piece, and to the basic conflict between the "liquid", flexible, expressive nature of the material, and the "crystalline", highly ordered, structural elements. The two instruments are treated very much on equal terms, with neither predominating, and indeed for the most part they occupy the same gestural territory.

Liquid Crystal is dedicated to Catherine Playoust. In 1990, it was the winning piece in the 2MBS-FM Young Composers' Competition.

Work Details

Year: 1990

Instrumentation: Clarinet, piano.

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Catherine Playoust. "For Catherine"

Performances of this work

7 Dec 2019: at Ships in the Night (Newstead Brewery Co.). Featuring Luke Carbon, Alex Raineri.

20 Aug 92: Old Darlington School, University of Sydney. Featuring Catherine Playoust, Simon Docking.

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