Look on this Oedipus : full orchestra
by Jennifer Fowler (1973)
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Library shelf no. CD 2540 [Available for loan]
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Library shelf no. F 784.2/FOW 1 [Available for loan]
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The quotation in the title is from Sophocles' play: "Oedipus the King". It occurs at the moment in the play when the fate of Oedipus is at last revealed and we are invited to contemplate this Fate in horror and pity.
This single-movement piece is not intended to follow the play in detail or represent any direct aspect of it, but you may find some loose parallels with the play - the stark dramatic structure; the alternation of contrasting sections (in the play, the chorus sections alternate with action and dialogue); the long slow build up of tension, resulting in one agonised climax; and the release of tension at the end, when you are invited to think over what you have heard or seen.
On the other hand, if you prefer, you may forget all about Oedipus. The music follows its own musical logic.
You should find that Look on this Oedipus is simple and direct. I therefore do not propose to add any remarks regarding its musical details, except perhaps to point out that the recurring rhythmic motive follows a pattern of 4 : 3 : 2 : 3, and that this same proportion is reflected in most of the larger events of the piece.
Instrumentation: 3 flutes (1st & 2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani (2 players), percussion (3 players), strings.
Duration: 19 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Australian Broadcasting Corporation.. Commissioned for the opening of the Perth Concert Hall.
Performances of this work
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