Rolling onwards into the new week it is time to get back to some proper writing after just a couple of weeks of being back and forth between different projects. I have spent the past couple of days working on The Big Piece, throwing material down onto paper and screen and attempting to put it into some kind of order. The current core of the work is a five minute setting of a Latin text, which, in the scheme of the whole opus, will have some significance, even if it is slightly secondary to the main thrust of the piece. It uses some musical material from another source, but, as luck (or is it luck?) would have it, this material opens in exactly the same way as the basic musical idea of the piece.
What this means is that, although I have been casting my net fairly wide in terms of what I have written so far, the material I have is all very tightly knit in terms of musical DNA, thus ensuring (I hope) that the completed work, even though taking nearly an hour, will have a unity which can be both felt and heard, while still displaying variety in terms of the notes therein. I had thought that working on so large a canvas might prove problematic, but have to admit that I am warming to the task at hand and feel in many ways that the space afforded to me is throwing out all sorts of possibilities.
I do not compose in a Brahms-like fashion, with some kind of deep inner logic which manifests itself from the very start of the compositional process. Sometimes I will begin at the beginning, but often, taking advice from Elgar, who had so much of value to say about the business of being a composer, I start at the moments of importance and then work from there. There is a story that Elgar used to write fragments at first and then work out where in the piece they might fit, and I am feeling something of that in this work. It is intimidating, I cannot deny, but that feeling is comprehensively overpowered by the feeling of excitement which happens when I have a good run at a section, which I have done today (the opening, since you ask!).
Away from TBP I am also arranging a solo trumpet part for the performance of the Mendelssohn Lobgesang I will be involved with in Anghiari. As usual, this is a constant balancing act of too much versus too little, of reinforcement of the vocal parts versus the trumpet going its own way – a never-ending stream of decisions, each of which impacts upon all the others, much like composition itself.
I uncovered an old email yesterday in which I spoke in optimistic terms about the year then to come and about various possibilities. It did not all quite come off, and the only conclusion I can come to is that I must try harder. Onwards and upwards it is, then, as always, and it is time to get back to my manuscript and work out where all the fragments might end up.
Lastly, here is the first review I have managed to find of the Parry/Stanford/O’Neill CD recently released by EM Records, which, of course, includes Flyht.