Timepieces

(1987)

by Jonathan Harvey

Description
orchestra (with two conductors)
Duration
15
Genres
Full Orchestra
Instrumentation
3(=picc).2(II=ca).2(I=Ebcl.II=Ebcl+bcl).2(II=cbsn) -4231 - perc(5): vib/glsp/lujon/mcas/xyl/coiled spring/mark tree/BD/tpl.bl/c.bell/mar/siz.cym/crot/gong/t.bells/guiro/4 oriental gong/susp.cym/2 tgl/3 tom-t/2 wdbl/tamb/tam-t - pno(=small elec organ or synth) - strings (min 14.12.10.8.6)
Commission
Commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation
First Performance
23.9.88, Saarbrucken: Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra/John Carewe/Fleming Vistissen
Availability
Score (fp) 0-571-55712-0 on sale, parts for hire
Programme Notes
Timepieces was commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation. The conductor and his assistant usually beat different tempi. The two groups they conduct are not fixed: they are constantly reforming – no player sticks to one conductor, he has to follow instructions as to which conductor to watch at what moment. The purpose of this is to explore our sense of time and to stretch it. Different time-worlds co-exist and have a relation to each other, just as we exist in individual consciousness, yet pass through the consciousness of others, more or less transparently. There are three ‘time pieces’. I Slow pillars move through each other indifferent time worlds. Bass melodies are accompanied by their upper overtones. A simple, almost banal, dance motif is played at several speeds. Towards the end, a fantasy of string glissando-lines. II A fast layer is played by percussive instruments: it has ever-changing bar-lengths with different values in ratio against them, ie. 5:4, 6:5, 7:6, 11:7, etc. A slow layer exposes the same ratios in reverse at a slower tempo, ie. 4:5, 5:6, etc. Eventually this layer accelerates to join the fast layer. III Very slow, almost timeless waves, are freely controlled by the conductors. A little percussion figure reminds like a clock of the ‘measured’ world.

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News & Reviews

'Timepieces' reviews

'Three different movements, investigating the time-worlds we inhabit. The possibilities are endless, but Harvey skilfully contains himself to just three scenarios utilising two conductors, with the players not necessarily following the same conductor throughout each piece… This was without doubt one of the most important and memorable premières in Britain this year.' Read more

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