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Precipice : for oboe and piano

by Elliott Gyger (2010)



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Work Overview

Precipice takes the idea of the pi├Ęce de concours as its starting point, but arranges its various components into an unexpectedly dark narrative. In addition to its topographical meaning, there is a less common definition of "precipice" as a precarious state or situation of great peril: connotations of danger and excessive speed (as in the adjective "precipitous") are also relevant to the mood of the work. The oboe here is intrinsically a plaintive, lyrical instrument - agility is attainable but doesn't come naturally, and always seems vulnerable to collapse.

The quick first movement, 'At the edge', resembles a variation set of accumulating tensions, in which the oboe, initially dance-like, is placed under ever greater pressure, reaching breaking point towards the end. The piano accompaniment is, by turns, laconically indifferent and downright hostile. The second movement, 'After the fall', follows without a break. Here the two instruments attempt to reassemble a musical line from pulverized fragments, reaching in the process some sort of uneasy truce.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: Oboe, piano.

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Sydney Conservatorium of Music.. Commissioned as part of the "101 Compositions for 100 Years" project.

First performance: by Matthew Bubb, Emmanuel Cassimatis, Alex Fontaine, Jeanell Carrigan — 6 Oct 10. Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Performances of this work

21 May 2018: at Elliott Gyger at 50 (Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon). Featuring Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) New Music Ensemble.

6 Oct 10: Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Featuring Matthew Bubb, Emmanuel Cassimatis, Alex Fontaine, Jeanell Carrigan.

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