Matthew Whittall: Solen

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Transcript of Matthew Whittall: Solen

  • Matthew Whittall

    Solen for orchestra

    Conductor's Score

    (2006 rev. 2007/9)

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    Instrumentation:

    3 Flutes (all doubling Piccolos)

    2 Oboes

    English Horn (doubling Oboe 3)

    3 Bb Clarinets (2nd doubling Eb Clarinet)

    2 Bassoons

    Contrabassoon (doubling Bassoon 3)

    4 F Horns

    3 C Trumpets (all doubling Bb Piccolo Trumpets)

    2 Trombones

    Bass Trombone

    Tuba

    Timpani (also playing Glass Windchime if possible)

    Percussion (3 players, see detail)

    Harp

    Piano (doubling Keyboard Glockspiel*)

    Strings (at least half of Contrabass section must have C extension/5-string Bass extending to low B)

    Percussion distribution:

    Player 1 Player 2 Player 3

    Vibraphone (also with 2 bows) Bass Marimba (5 octaves) Bass drum

    Thai gongs (7) Bell plates** (2) 3 Suspended Cymbals (sm, med, lg)

    Crotales (2 octaves, with bow) Triangle (very high and light sound)

    Glockenspiel (shared with Player 3) Bell tree

    Large Tam-tam*** (shared with Player 1) Mark tree

    Tam-tam (Large - shared with Player 2) Tambourine Waterphone (with bass bow) - optional

    Wind machine Slapstick (Whip)

    Medium Suspended Cymbal (with bow) Splash cymbal (large)

    Temple blocks (3)

    Bell plates (shared - see Player 2)

    Glockenspiel (shared with Player 2)

    * Keyboard Glockenspiel may be replaced with a synthesized approximation using a loud, slightly distorted metallic percussion sound like Crotales. Some

    Keyboard Glockenspiels are not equipped with a sustaining pedal and damp all notes when the keys are released. Since a resonant echo is required, if a

    Glockenspiel with a sustaining pedal is not available, default to a synthesizer equipped with a sustaining pedal or, at the extreme, a Celeste, played at

    maximum volume.

    ** If Bell plates are unavailable or if stage space does not allow, replace with Tubular bells struck with the hardest possible mallet.

    *** For the Tam-tam stroke at the climax in m. 250, the composer requests for visual reasons that an extra tam-tam be used, the largest tam-tam available

    (marked HUGE Tam-tam in score). This tam-tam should be placed at the back of the stage, clearly separated from the rest of the percussion body in order

    that the audience see it being struck.

  • Composers note: I had the idea for Solen in 2001, if in an abstract way, during my first trans-Atlantic flight in many years, leaving Canada for my adopted Finland. Specifically, I was captivated by the phenomenon of a very short night resulting from taking off at sunset and flying east toward the dawn. There was great poetic power in suddenly encountering the sun face-on, after having it at my back what seemed like only moments earlier. Two years later, the composition was spurred on by the experience of seeing different versions of Edvard Munch's 1911 mural Solen (The Sun) in Oslo, including the artist's early sketches for the painting. I found its dazzling sunbeams and vivid primary colors breathtaking, something I later tried to capture in the clashing, diatonic chordal sonorities and coruscating surface patterns of the music. I also loved his painting right to the edge of the frame, making the rays from the central sunburst appear to reach beyond the physical border of the image. The shape of Solen eventually grew out of these visual ideas, starting with a burst of sound, like a vast machine gathering energy, lifting off, and slowly ascending through alternating strata of activity and stasis toward a distant, crystalline point, then gradually returning to the opening music. The rapid succession of harmonic gates through which the music passes functions as a gaining of musical altitude, constantly spinning the sound materials in new directions on the way toward the central climax, a huge spectrum based on C major a chord that, at least to me, has always sounded and felt like direct sunlight. I'd had an inkling on that first trip that I was leaving my homeland for a very long time. During the long process of conceptualizing Solen, and the short period of composing it, I clearly remembered the excitement I had felt at the time, chasing that sunrise toward my new home. Notions of flight and sun were accompanied at the back of my mind by thoughts of travel and discovery, which I suppose lent the music a bright, optimistic tone, as well as a forward momentum I tried to preserve, even in sections of relative stillness where the engines are switched off and the music is allowed to glide under its own power. One of the things I most admire about Munch and other painters, like Van Gogh, is their way of integrating the texture of their canvas or backing material into the final work, rather than simply using it as a surface to hold up the paint. Following this idea, the orchestra of Solen at one point crosses over the border between music and noise, as if to make audible the rushing wind outside the machine. Although quite irrelevant to the listening experience, it occurred to me early on as I played with materials that I was writing a fairly rigorously structured twelve-tone piece, albeit in a minimalist, essentially tonal North American way. Having only recently developed some sense of comfort working in the border regions between many cultures national, linguistic and aesthetic I found this realization highly satisfying, and thereafter did my best to forget it.

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    Piccolo

    English Horn

    Bassoons

    Contrabassoon

    1 & 2

    3

    Trombones1 & 2

    Bass TromboneTuba

    Timpani

    Vibraphone

    Bell Plates

    Bass Drum

    Oboes

    C Trumpets

    Flutes

    Bb Clarinets

    F Horns

    Harp

    Piano

    Violin I

    Violin II

    Viola

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    Contrabass

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    SolenMatthew Whittall

    (2006 rev. 2007/9)Score in C

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    Picc.

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    Bell Pl.

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    Pno.

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    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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