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Sextet (Contemporary Obsolescence)
00:00 / 10:17

flute, trumpet, bassoon, cello, piano, harpsichord.


The subtitle, Contemporary Obsolescence, began as an imaginary book from which I would draw dryly droll quotations (usually of a tautological or contradictory nature, like the title).  Several years later, the Sextet took shape around the idea of an old-sounding idea lost in the midst of modern confusion.  The resulting music ponders the increasingly uncertain place of the past in the erratic drift of present-day cultural fragmentation, as well as an underlying sense that reality may have been misplaced.

The piece begins with four themes, all "talking" at once, with a plaintive trumpet melody leading the way.  Eventually the themes develop in sequence, but not without ongoing commentary and dissent from other musical voices.  Before long, the harpsichord leads the way into a new, baroque-like soliloquy submerged in the continued fermentation of earlier thematic ideas.  This meandering process eventually turns awkwardly suspenseful, occasionally silly, and finally picks up an energetic groove which carries the ensemble into a grandly romantic restatement of the harpsichord's soliloquy.  This falls into an epilogue: an extended sighing figure sounds over the cello's lowest string (which is retuned down a half-step in mid-stride), setting the stage for a final muted statement of the opening trumpet theme. ​

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