The Visitor



Additional Information

Dedicated to Tímea Johanna Németh. A suite of three main movements connected by two short interludes. Originally born from a composition game played amongst friends, 'The Visitor' was initially based on a theme I had written for a round of the game, and was at the time concieved as an opportunity to study the harmonic versatility of pentatonic lines. The suite was begun in 2010 and the first movement and a half were completed, but unfortunately the suite was then sidelined for the following 3 years to persue what at the time were more pressing obligations. On returning to the piece, and finding that my musical outlook had changed quite dramatically, the first movement was abandoned entirely, and so the suite grew out of the remaining ideas, now entitled 'An Arrival'. Broadly speaking, the suite explores simple pentatonic melodies in the contexts of polytonality and interrelated harmonic fields. These harmonic fields are used in such a way that they generate new harmonic fields through stacking their intervals in novel orders, by using them as a set, or by using their negative (the remaining notes), and subjecting them to the same kind of treatment. First performed by Adam Swayne (piano) and Susie Winkworth (cello) on 25th April 2013 at Friend's Meeting House, Brighton. I – An Arrival... (Allegro) – the first movement sees the introduction of the main thematic and harmonic material in a playful but often yearning allegro. At times flowing, at others brusque and angular, we are drawn through a range of textures and ideas, where the role of each instrument is balanced. A repetition of the first theme gradually gives way to a sharper middle section, during which the cello works itself up into its higher register, delivering a long, unbroken melodic line as in the introductory bars, this time over a sharper, jagged piano style. A great crescendo simmers back down into the original motifs of the piece, which in turn gradually simmers out. II – 1st Interlude (A Premonition) – this shorter, intermediary passage anticipates the final movement in a cool, unassuming series of piano chords which gently grow from one another, at the same time giving birth to the cello melody, to be seen again later under a very different guise. Almost space-like in style, and not relying on any traditional form, this movement looks ahead into the future. III – ...Time Unfolds... (Ostinati) – the suite's central movement toys with polyrhythms, metric modulation and tightly canoning phrasing to create a rhythmically intricate web of music. In ternary form, the first section builds gradually, constantly being interrupted by an alien phrase in the piano's right hand. This motif eventually takes over in a psychedelic wash of sound, leading to the central section, a mechanically-driven groove underpinning a waltz-like piano theme in off-set triplets (derived from a negative of the first harmonic field). The music runs its course, and we find ourselves at a sort of mirror image of the introductory material, nostalgic, dying away. IV – 2nd Interlude (A Memory) – the second of the two shorter phases of the work harks back to the first movement, this time the harmonic field being used as a set of pitches to construct a slow waltz, retrogressive in form, looking back in time. V – ...An Exit! (Vivace) – the concluding movement sees the return of the material set out in the 1st Interlude. This movement takes us on a frenetic journey through many reinventions of thematic and harmonic material, both emotionally far-reaching and technically demanding. Energy builds over the course of the entire piece to a roaring climax, where the music is finally cut off, as if torn away, a concluding amalgam of all the harmonic ideas we've heard so far.