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Quelques cercles : for orchestra

by Anthony Lyons (2011)

Quelques cercles


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Quelques cercles : for orchestra / Anthony Lyons.

Library shelf no. Q 784.2/LYO 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Quelques Cercles (several circles) takes its title and broad inspiration from a painting by Vassily Kandinsky. Kandinsky's abstract painting, full of coloured circles against a dark background seemed to me like a snapshot of the cosmos or a nebulae full of rotating stars and planets. A postcard of the work had been sitting on my desk since I picked it up from a Kandinsky exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in 2009. In the early stages of this composition it became apparent that the music was developing with some parallels to Kandinsky's circular images that shared my working space.

The orchestral work Quelques Cercles is underpinned by a passacaglia figure and this is repeated throughout the work in various forms and colourations - moving around a pitch cycle until it finally returns to the original pitch centre. The passacaglia figure, first heard in the cellos, also provides much of the melodic and motif material for the work. It is put through various modal and chromatic harmonic filtering to bring out different colours with its repetitions. The middle section of the piece is based on the first four notes of the passacaglia figure and this is elongated over a pedal-point texture - forming an inner circle within the larger circular structure.

The work also utilises pulse. This moves between the foreground and background musical textures and functions as an additional circular element overall. The pulse figures are based on quavers in three's and two's (derived from the 7/8, 5/8 section of the work). The 7/8, 5/8 pulses are at times superimposed within the crotchet based parts of the piece providing a sense of syncopation and overlapping metres - a little like the overlapping circles in Kandinsky's painting.

Work Details

Year: 2011

Instrumentation: 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet in B flat, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players), harp, strings.

Duration: 14 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

First performance: by University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Michael Thomas at University of Melbourne Orchestra (Melbourne Recital Centre) on 19 Sep 2011


Performances of this work

19 Sep 2011: at University of Melbourne Orchestra (Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Michael Thomas.

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