Street Antiphons (2015)
for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano
Instrumentation: clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), violin, cello, and piano
I. Driving, in a groove
II. Reverberant, sustained; with great energy
III. Timeless, mysterious
Duration: 16 minutes
World Premiere: Commissioned and premiered by the Boston Chamber Music Society April 19, 2015 Co-commissioned by Da Camera of Houston, SOLI (San Antonio), and Voices of Change (Dallas).
Street Antiphons attempts to present and contrast secular and sacred music. The “secular” music (music of the street) comes in the form of rhythmically driving sections, while the “sacred” music is often lyrical and suspended. The first movement is set up by each instrument entering and adding to a very syncopated groove (with many mixed meter changes). After a clarinet and violin canon-like duo over the rhythmic accompaniment of pizzicato cello and piano, the initial process reverses itself and the instruments exit one by one. The second movement really contains two movements in one – it begins as a lyrical and ethereal slow movement, with the use of many string harmonics, but gradually transitions into a rapid scherzo-like movement, with the use of the bass clarinet. The final movement is a set of variations – the theme is a Gregorian Chant entitled “O Antiphon”. The variations become more and more animated and after the final, extremely disjunct, variation, there is a reprise of music from the first movement, only to dissipate and once again recall the more “sacred” music from the piece.
© 2016 Pierre Jalbert, Street Antiphons
Photo: Julia Jalbert