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Ad Parnassum (octets: flute, percussion, mandolin, guitar, harp, violin, viola, double bass)

by Michael Whiticker (1989, this version: 1991)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work
This sample is from the Solo Flute version of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Libra Ensemble from the CD Redror

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Work Overview

Stored amongst the recesses of a composer's mind can generally be found the plans for a large number of works. Although knowing that they will not all be brought to fruition, the composer is usually content with the knowledge that they will lie dormant, waiting to be brought out, dusted off when needed and slotted into some willing agenda.

The original idea for a piece for flute soloist and chamber ensemble, Ad Parnassum can be traced directly to an earlier work, Ad Marginem written in 1986. The short third movement of that piece, although successful for me in the context of a large four movement work, had always seemed a little aenemic, so I was pleased when the opportunity arose to reorchestrate it and develop it into a completely new and much larger work for the Elision ensemble.

Even under the influence of two very different constraints - one being a complete rethinking of the original material to suit Elision's unusual ensemble and the new shape I was casting it in, as it was now to become a complete work in its own right, and the second being my 1991 composing temperament which was vastly different to that of 1986 - Ad Parnassum is still in many ways a sister piece to the earlier concerto.
Both works take their titles from paintings by Paul Klee, and in the case of Ad Marginem this is not a surprise given the musical references I found in his marine landscape. Klee was an amateur musician of some note and it has been suggested that in Ad Parnassum he was making a reference to the 1723 treatise on music theory and counterpoint of Johann Joseph Fux, Gradus ad Parnassum. While this musical reference in itself is enough to interest me in Klee's painting, I am more fascinated by the constellation of colours and sense of contrast which he employs. With Ad Parnassum however, I made no attempt to attach any program to the music.

Work Details

Year: 1989, this version: 1991

Instrumentation: Flute soloist, mandolin, guitar, harp, percussion, violin, viola, double bass.

Duration: 10 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Elision Ensemble.


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