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Quenaeu Etudes, for harpsichord - No. 2 'Parachesis'

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2023
1 min.

Harpsichord

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Program Notes
These pieces were written for keyboard virtuoso Dónal McCann. Queneau Études for harpsichord on Tuesday 13 June at the Chapel of New College, Oxford. Dónal's been performing all six of JS Bach's French Suites (1722-25) over a series of weekly concerts and for the last one I've rather quickly written some music – and Dónal's even more quickly learned it! I've used a French inspiration myself in the form of Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de Style (1947). Queneau was a founder of the Oulipo group of writers and this, his most famous book, has same short story retold in ninety-nine different literary forms. This kind of 'constrained writing' approach always resonates with me and really any composer who knows of it because it's what we do all the time – to quote Anton Webern on his approach to composing, 'the chains set me free'. So, I've used a series of contraints in my writing for Dónal where, for example, the 4th etude 'La Gavotte du Policier Trampoline' uses nothing but the notes of the Gavotte of Suite No. 6. This étude is essentially a unique 'reading' of the entire piece according to a strict scheme. Another example is the final étude that focuses on just the final cadential passage of the Allemande of Suite No.1. Here we loop the chords and cycle through the rhythms to let the player's hands at points go out of sync until the cycle is complete.
Recording Notes
Recorded live at the Chapel of New College, Oxford
Ensemble Name
Dónal McCann

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