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Responsorium : for piano quartet

by Jack Symonds (2015)



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Responsorium : for piano quartet / Jack Symonds.

Library shelf no. 785.2814/SYM 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Responsorium (2015) is an imaginary musical building inspired by the curvilinear architecture of Frank Gehry. The Australia Piano Quartet's residency at the University of Technology, Sydney spurred me create a work that reflected the dramatic new Gehry building at the University.

The piece functions as a series of chaconne-like variations, and takes the form of a large-scale accelerando with the musical material spiralling into a rapid apex. The first half of the work occurs spatially, with the three strings laying a ground plan of blurred outlines and self-similar yet constantly regenerating modal harmony. The piano is a mysterious, immovable presence. As the strings move to the centre, the music gains rhythmic, gestural and structural energy. Each new terrace of tempo compresses the music such that what initially took five minutes to play eventually takes around five seconds. I have attempted to represent the impossibility of the perfect curve with music plotted along an infinitely flexible, never-ending Thrust Line of harmony.

The piece is also an oblique reflection on the legacy of recently deceased Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe. The harmony is created out of transformed versions of some of his chordal fingerprints, though taken on a very different journey.

Work Details

Year: 2015

Instrumentation: Piano, violin, viola, cello.

Duration: 10 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Australia Piano Quartet.

First performance: by Australia Piano Quartet — 10 May 15. Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House


Performances of this work

27 Oct 2017: at Australia Piano Quartet (Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room). Featuring Australia Piano Quartet.

10 May 15: Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House. Featuring Australia Piano Quartet.

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