How Do You Sift Through Time? Concerto for Horn, Winds, and Percussion
How do you sift through time? is a concerto for horn, winds, and percussion. This conceptual piece muses on the omnipresence and intangibility of time, focusing on how human beings reckon with it. Exploring this concept in a horn concerto is a nod to Olivier Messiaen's "Appel interstellaire" (Interstellar Call), the sixth movement from Des canyons aux ã©toiles.... In Messiaen's appel, the solo horn begins with a resounding call that reaches all the universe.This horn concerto comprises four movements, each subtitled with a question that puts forth a tentative response to the title's inquiry. The first movement, subtitled "Cosmically?," opens with the horn alone intoning a motif that represents the concerto's titular question. The wind ensemble responds with counterpoint derived from the horn's call, preparing the harmonic "universe" of the concerto to come. When measuring time, the enormity of the question encompasses everything, so this first movement carries a sense of cosmic wonder. Movement two is subtitled "Mechanically?" and it contemplates clockwork: mechanical processes that organize time for human purposes. This movement reworks the concerto's opening horn call as a ground bass over which a passacaglia-like mechanical ballet unfolds. The movement concludes with a short chorale built on the same ground bass.The third movement, "Alone?," concerns more introspective questions of time. Rather than than portray this with a purely solo movement, the horn's queries are framed by orchestral gestures reminiscent of classic film scoring techniques. The movement becomes more lyrical and resolute, although this gives way to an unsettled ending that moves attacca into the finale.The final movement is subtitled "Line by Line?" This closing chapter is a second clockwork piece that concludes the concerto via contrapuntal means, completing the circle with a florid chaconne. This archaic form, with its winding variations over a repeating chord progression, offers an image somewhat like a computer scientist parsing through countless lines of code, taking care to investigate each one along the way. The work concludes with a thrust of desperate energy out of a quiet abyss, leaving a wistful feeling appropriate to the vast topic at hand.