Re-inventions (quintets: recorder with string quartet)
by Elena Kats-Chernin (2004)
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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
and quite virtuosic - similar to the overall spirit of the 1st movement.
Instrumentation: Descant recorder/tenor recorder/bass recorder/sopranino recorder, 2 violins, viola, cello.
Duration: 24 min.
Contents note: No. 1 (based on Invention No. 8) (4 min., 20 sec.) -- No. 2 (based on Invention No. 4) (4 min., 40 sec.) -- No. 3 (based on Invention No. 13) (2 min., 40 sec.) -- No. 4 (based on Invention No. 1) (3 min., 50 sec.) -- No. 5 (based on Invention No. 6) (5 min., 20 sec.) -- No. 6 (based on Invention No. 10) (3 min.).
A reflection on Bach's most famous Two-Part Inventions.
The movements are like individual independent pieces and the order of them can be varied as required.
Article: Can't stop the music
by Jacqui Taffel — © John Fairfax Holdings
Source: Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October 2005 - Spectrum pp.4
Performances of this work
17 Mar 2013: at Snow in Summer (St Luke's Anglican Church (Mosman)).
2 Sep 2012: at Thoroughbass (St Luke's Anglican Church (Mosman)).
6 Mar 2011: at Elena Kats-Chernin (Verbrugghen Hall).
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