Duration: 9 minutes
Solicited by the Post Haste Reed Duo
Confluences, for alto saxophone and bassoon, attempts to find the various ways in which the two instruments can converge in performance. Throughout the course of the work, these confluences are expressed in tessitura (as instruments match color in shared registers), motive (as they intermittently share melodic and rhythmic material), and space (as they explore diverse places on the stage or performing space). Of course, these convergences are given even greater meaning through various dramatic moments of divergence.
Each movement takes inspiration from some aspect of astronomy or observed interstellar space for its respective title. The first movement, “Rogue,” is named after the phenomenon of rogue planets, or heavenly bodies that do not conform to traditional, predictable orbits. In this movement, saxophone and bassoon are always slightly out of sync, as one is constantly in the process of breaking free of the influence, or ‘gravity,’ of the other.
The second movement, “Receding Orbits,” begins with a plaintive melody derived from permutations of a seven-note row (F#-A-F-C#-D-D#-A#--a conflation of the names “Javier” and “Sean,” respectively, the bassoonist and saxophonist of the Post-Haste Duo to whom the work is dedicated) in the saxophone. This melody repeats in fixed fashion as the bassoon enters articulating its own, independent melody. Each line evolves and develops, seemingly indifferent to the other, the rhythmic relationship between each becoming increasingly strained. At a key moment the instruments erupt into dramatic unity. The movement ends as its principle material descends gently in scale form, as the fragments of a cosmic explosion.
The final movement, “beneath a canopy of angels… a river of stars,’ aims to explore the more poetic notions of the night sky. True convergence ensues from the beginning of the movement. After a lyrical interlude, opening motives return under increased rhythmic and harmonic strain, only to find their way to ultimate confluence.