Fire and Ice (2007)
Instrumentation: 3233 / 4331 / timp., 3 perc. / pno. / strings
I. Ice – Slow, sustained
II. Fire – Presto con fuoco
Duration: 20 minutes
World Premiere: Commissioned by Kathryn Gould through Meet the Composer Foundation's Magnum Opus Project. Premiered by the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Michael Morgan, conductor, on Feb. 23, 2007, Oakland, CA.
Though this work has little to do with the end of all things as suggested in the poem of Robert Frost, it does have to do with the idea of contrasts. The work contains two movements of contrasting character. The first movement (Ice) is slow, lyrical, and ethereal, making use of the high strings and the bowing of various percussion instruments. The second movement (Fire) is a high-energy study in orchestral virtuosity.
The first movement opens with a bell-like gesture, accompanied by pizzicato strings, which comes back numerous times in different guises. The music that follows builds and recedes many times, but ultimately ends in quiet reflection. The atmospheric, “icy” sounds are produced by the bowing of the Vibraphone and Crotales in the Percussion section, along with high string harmonics.
The second movement, marked Presto con fuoco, literally “with fire”, propels forward in constant motion. Towards the beginning, a solo woodwind theme is played first by a lone clarinet then all the upper woodwinds in close canon. This serves as a kind of refrain throughout the movement and is heard numerous times. Again, the Percussion section is very important and towards the end there is an extended passage for the Percussion alone, all playing various kinds of drums.
--- Pierre Jalbert
© 2016 Pierre Jalbert, Fire and Ice
Photo: Julia Jalbert