Sean Hickey profile

Avatar

Form
Chamber
Instrumentation
violin, clarinet, piano
Year
2005
Duration
20:00
Premiere
2011 - New York Chamber Music Festival, Symphony Space
Description

The piece, in three distinct movements, explores the peculiarities of independence and ensemble among the three instruments: clarinet, violin and piano. The title refers to the embodiment of some of my explorations in the area of meter and rhythm in my work up to its time of composition.

                  

Score
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Program Notes

                  Avatar was commissioned by violinist Ilya Gringolts in 2006 but never performed by him. Its belated premiere at the New York Chamber Music Festival took place in 2011 with Elmira Darvarova, Anthony McGill and Linda Hall performing. The piece, in three distinct movements, explores the peculiarities of independence and ensemble among the three instruments: clarinet, violin and piano. The title refers to the embodiment of some of my explorations in the area of meter and rhythm in my work up to its time of composition.

                  The basic material introduced on the first page of the restless and extensive first movement is subjected to quick transformation throughout, musical fragments taken apart, reassembled and put in different places, a sort of musical cubism. A brief violin cadenza leads into a slower section that is short-lived, the dominant cell of two sixteenths and an eighth reasserting itself throughout each contrasting section.  Marked “somewhat secretive”, the second movement is exactly that, marked by a dotted rhythm often stated in the lower register of the clarinet. At two points, the texture thickens dramatically, yet gives way to a short, chorale-like passage in the piano. The final movement returns to the spirit of the first yet concentrates on an elongated metrical modulation. A four-note ostinato in the piano left-hand stubbornly plows through a constantly changing meter, while the violin plays an equally insistent set of chords. The effect is of three instruments playing straightforward rhythms grafted onto an unstable background, often tossing parts to one another before returning. An occasional inserted short rest provides a hiccup in the insistent rhythm before an exuberant conclusion.

News

  • From Russia - Clarinet Concerto performance and recording

     In June of 2009, cellist Dmitry Kouzov and conductor Vladimir Lande gave the premiere of my Cello Concerto – a piece they commissioned – in the august surroundings of St Petersburg’s Belozersky-Belozelsky Palace, with the St. Petersburg Symphony. It was certainly a memorable trip as we recorded the piece in the Melodiya Studios that week as well. For this trip, we were to record my Clarinet Concerto – scored for clarinet and string orchestra – and it was to receive it’s Russian premiere at perhaps the most famous concert hall in the country, the famed Large Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, also called Shostakovich Hall.

  • Two performances, including a premiere, at the New York Chamber Music Festival

    I'm extremely happy to share the news that two of my works, including the premiere of my trio, Avatar, will be performed at the New York Chamber Music Festival. Clarinetist Anthony McGill, violinist Elmira Darvarova and pianist Linda Hall give the long-awaited premiere of the three-movement work on September 15, 2011 at Symphony Space.