In an idle moment while starting work on Chorales, etc, I was playing through the score of Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments at the piano. On impulse, I played the first chord of the famous chorale at the end of the piece as if the score were notated at actual pitch rather than in the transposed version that corresponds to the parts from which the players perform. The result was, of course, quite different from what Stravinsky had intended, but I found that, with a few tweaks, it was a chord I liked and wanted to include in my own piece. This chord appears as the first chord in the chorale that, as in Stravinsky, appears shortly before the end of the piece. Taking this chorale as a starting point, I wrote two further related chorales which appear at the opening and towards the middle of the piece; interspersed between these three chorales are a number of other contrasted (but related) sections.
The title is a reference to Julian Barnes’ novel Love, etc, which explains the title by saying that according to one of the central characters:
the world divides into people for whom love is everything and the rest of life is a mere ‘etc’, and people who don’t value love enough and find the most exciting part of life is the ‘etc’.
With regard to the chorales in Chorales, etc, I perhaps don’t fit neatly into either of these two categories of people, and prefer to sit on the fence. Whichever category one finds most exciting, however, the piece remains a combination of chorales and ‘etc’.
Instrumentation: Double Wind Quintet
Commission: Commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center with the generous support of the Merwin Geffen, M.D. and Norman Solomon, M.D. New Commissions Fund.
9th July 2017
TMC Fellows, Nuno Coelho (Conductor)
Seiji Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood