The Concerto para Arpa Harp e Conjunto Instrumentale (1993) of Jorge Peixinho

 

 

John MacKay

 

Although Jorge Peixinho has left a vivid and enduring legacy through his teachings, his writings, his many friends, "activities" and concerts, and of course, his prolific output of compositions, the refinement and intuitive sophistication of musical language of his last pieces (from roughly 1990 to his death in 1995) represent a further remarkable achievement which demands closer attention. Subtle organizational effects of textural "flux", "mosaic" streams of ideas, and an extended conception of the 12-tone series and intervallic process combine in a stability of concept which yielded remarkable and varied results from work to work; it is clear that in these pieces that Peixinho arrived at a freedom and clarity of thought which was unique among his peers.

It is also fortunate that these developments did not pass without significant commentary from the composer himself. On the subject of the role of the series in his Estudo V, the 'Reihe-Courante ...' he writes:

It is a matter of a study on the vision of the series as an object and subject, an expanding concept which includes as much of the Schoenbergian conception of the thematic series as it does the Webernian notion of the series as structural and structuring principal, ordering and activating the organization of the work.

And, as such, it is not a serial work! Estudo V proposes to be a reflection on the profound historical significance of the series, the series reified, symbolic, a presupposition of its theoretical and philosophical presuppositions, and, at the same time a (moving) hommage to its historical role in the propulsion of modernity in the dizzying course of twentieth-century music.

In this way the series assumes a suprathematic role, and essential vector of th identity of the work. at the level of its internal conception and its external (extroverted) expression. It is not confined to a function of (subliminal and in a certain way hidden) structural order but it is also assumed as a subject/object of the composition, ostensibly at its foremost level with neither artificiality nor ambiguity. (1)

The Concerto for Harp and Instrumental Ensemble is perhaps the most transparent of Peixinho's last works, a high point in his writing for a favorite instrument and particular ensemble of performer/friends. It is also a work which, despite its complexity, presents a fairly clear strategy and discourse:

The Concerto for Harp and Instrumental Ensemble marks the culminating point of the active presence of this instrument in my creative process.

More than a solo instrument, the harp assumes here a catalyzing function for the entire musical discourse, as a conducting, mediating, unifying, dominating element. This is evident when we see the actual unfolding of the work, as the harp interrupts as if in an almost constant flux throughout the piece, articulating and molding all of its formal structure.

Fundamental structuring elements (metrical levels, rhythms, accents) are found in a systematically dependent relation with basic structural factors (intervals, harmonic fields and processes).

The work is dedicated to Mario Falcão and Clothilde Rosa who have placed the harp at the nuclear center of our contemporary panorama. (2)

Many of the expansions of the serial language which Peixinho describes in his essay on the Estudo V are clearly found in the Concerto, but the role-playing relations between instruments, pitch and harmonic materials, motives, textures and tempi open a rich intrigue which the composer only vaguely intimates in these commentaries. The clearest structural inter-dependencies can be observed between the tempi, harmonic fields and formal/ensemble relations - many of these can be seen in Figure 1 which provides a formal interpretation of the work as well as a representation of its tempo blocks and harmonic fields which will be discussed in detail below.

The initial section (measures 1 - 57) has a cumulative expositional character in its gradual accrual of thematic, intervallic and solo/ensemble relationships and also in its establishment of the tempo framework of the piece. A composite second section deals with the passing emergence of a 'toccata' in articulate sixteenths (measures 80 - 104) from a rhythmicized but registrally static 'pitch field' in the strings and harp (measures 60-79) and the disintegration of the 'toccata' into a cadenza of discontinuous fragments in the solo (m.104-112). The cadenza bridges into the first "shadowed monologue" involving a long sequence of tempo changes initially with harmonic filagree in the harp with highly nuanced but transient doublings and resonances (i.e. 'shadows') throughout the others instruments. After a brief heterophony or "clumping" of arabesques in m. 146 in the winds, the texture returns to the interactive arabesques as in the opening section culminating decisively in a sustained high-register resonance in m.183.

The fourth and central section remarkably superimposes four layers of different tempo activity in a brief but ethereal mixture of high-register filagree and harmonics in the strings which, to this point, had been persistent in a background ambience but which gain in significance later and in closing portions of the piece. The unraveling of the layered tempi into a momentary pitch field in the harp percussion and piano (at measure 192) leads to an elegant polyphony of arabesques and an accumulation and eventual concentration (in m. 213) of upper-register repeated-tone gestures. Antiphonal exchanges (mm.221 - 227) between the harp, piano and winds/strings bring the section to an incisive cutoff in a quick but intense flourish of filagree in the clarinet and flute

The subsequent section (V) is clearly retrospective as it recaptures moments of the earlier 'shadowed monologue' but it is interrupted, first by a quick but violently intense cadenza in the piccolo and then by two further isolated clumpings of heterophony, the first of which (m. 268) is virtually identical to the original in m. 146. The eleven-chord "chorale" (mm. 282 - 292) is mysteriously static and disjointed in delicate scalic sonorities exploring a focused ensemble timbre which is suggestive of earlier passages. In the symmetrical design of the work, the brief 'chorale' at this point and the earlier 'toccata' of mm. 78-99 balance each other in their 'generic' forms and 'rhythmic' organizations in contrast to the more freely interactive structure of the other episodes. While the coda (VI) returns distinctively to the very opening tremolo it attempts initially to maintain the "shadowed monologue" but following, a brief exchange of arabesques, it drifts inevitably to the upper register pitch fields which transfigure beyond a short reflective cadenza in the harp once more into the rich and crystaline colors of the closing measures



 

Figure 1: Schematic Representation of Concerto for Harp and Instrumental Ensemble and Fixed-Pitch Configurations

 

The Series and "Configurations"

The series of the Concerto is stated at the opening where it is immediately absorbed in processes of derivation, registral shifts and chromatic fluctuation by which Peixinho typically manipulates his tonal materials.

 




 

Figure 2: Presentation of the Series of Concerto for Harp and Instrumental Ensemble (Series tones indicated with stars.)

It is restated only fleeting in the central developments of the concerto and then again summarily, but no more lucidly, at the beginning of the coda - yet as Peixinho has suggested, it continues to serve as a resource of harmonic materials and relationships throughout the work,. Most importantly it is seen to spawn, at various points, more stable "configurations" (represented arbitrarily as "a", A1", "b" etc. in Figure 1) or passages of relatively fixed pitch registration which, like temporary thematic models, are in turn subject to the work's ongoing linear and harmonic evolution.

In addition to the role of chromatic fluctuation descending chromatic lines, which are minimally present in the series the E to E , F#-F, C#-C natural) arise significantly at various points in the piece. The harmonic texture of the Concerto is similarly seen to evolve at certain points toward equal interval superpositions - of fifths, fourths, whole-tones as well as certain tonal centers supported by fifths and octaves and even triadic and seventh sonorities. Linear arabesques in the harp solo, percussion and winds, typically consist of predominant interval types (fifths, sixths, tritones etc.) at various points, as do the many "interval streams" typically in the strings which traverse various registers of the ongoing texture (see Example 1). All of these processes are interwoven with the work's remarkable exchange of articulation and timbral nuance and its emerging transformations of the motivic and harmonic elements of the series



Example 1: Interval Streams in Strings in mm 32-35

Section I: mm. 1 - 57

The exposition of the series over the first fifteen measures materializes cumulatively from the resources of the ensemble (the harp does not enter until m. 31). The solitary tremolo E-G in the clarinet (see Figure 2) of the opening shifts to the marimba and back with the 'cellos' swell and receding iterations of upper mid-register A natural harmonics - thus defining essential intervallic entities in the series - the minor third (E-G), the major second (G-A) and fourth (E-A). The D of the series in the 'cello receives, by comparison, only passing exposure as does the Aof the 'cellos ascending interval stream in sevenths and sixths in m.12. The intervening C-C#-F# in the piano and high strings is seemingly anticipated by the a wavering vibrato in the 'cello's A natural which responds to the sonority with more rapid quintuplet iterations, leaping to form another tritone/fourth group with the B flat-E flat of a descending battuto glissando. In the retention and increasing flux of the series elements, the transient arrival of the E flat influences the E-G tremolo, attracting the E to E flat as the G slips to F# (in consonance with the high-register series F#) and tremolo is prolonged in the flute (m. 13). Further assimilations and recombinations at this point produce a D#-A tritone tremolo in the marimba as the final two tones of the series, F and B arrive via a descending chromatic line from the high-register F#-C in the piano which continues further to E-A# in m. 17.

It is useful to abstract certain features of the series, in particular, the chain of fifths relationship of the first five tones E-G-A-D-C (C-G-D-A-E), the generic harmonic elements of the tritone/fourth chord C-C#-F#, the minor seventh (mm7) sonority C#-F#- A#-D#, the major seventh (MM7) sonority D-A-F#-C# and the diminished triad A flat-F-B. Other instances of these elements which arise more indirectly from the series are nonetheless significant throughout the piece, such as the E flat-A tritone and B flat-E flat-A tritone/fourth sonority, as well as the later A-C-E-G and C-E flat-G-B flat minor seventh sonorities (m.26. also, for example G#-B-D#-F# in m. 57) which are often configured as pairs of fifths a minor third apart. One registration of pitches which becomes particularly referential to these initial developments from the series is "a1" which we first find at m. 20 (3) typically appearing with a semitone oscillation between mid-register E natural and E flat. Similarly the high-register C#-F# reiterated in m. 22 and particularly the F# become a points of registral reference throughout the entire work. The descending chromatic line in tritones in the piano over mm. 10, 15, 17 becomes an important precedent for similar motions (descending and ascending) throughout the work and the semitone tension of C-C# becomes active in throughout the piece in many different guises.

The harp's eventual entrance on middle C-natural (m. 27) is reflected by a momentary "halo" in the winds and percussion (the upper and high-register C-E-D natural in m. 28) in opposition to the prevailing harmonic texture which settles (in mm. 29 - 32) to center the middle C in harmonic  stacking of thirds (D flat-A flat-F-C-E flat-G-B flat) with the strings and according to the descending chromatic tritones of the piano (mm. 10, 15, 17), thus connecting its initial C-G flat to the B-F tremolo which slips a half-step more to E-A#. It triggers a series of similar motions all beginning on the lower tritone E-B flat in the clarinet (m.36, 38), the harp again (m.37) percussion (marimba in m. 39-40), and three times in the piano (m. 40-41, 41-42, 45 - 46) which in their upper tones trace a descending line C#- C natural, B flat from the strident 'halo' (B-C#-E) in the percussion and flute in m.40. (note also the harp's expanding glissandi in the harp from middle - C-D flat to this sonority and the low-register B flat-C register/pitch reference. ) The final ascending arabesque in the series in the piano which begins on lower mid-register G-C# and ends on G-C# in the high register opposes the return of the harp to its mid-register tremolo on C (note its subsequent trill with D flat however) which is distantly centered between octave poles on G and F naturals. The whole-tone "a1" configuration (G-E flat-A and B) returns at m. 47 as part of the concluding developments of the section, in which whole-tone partitionings of the aggregate are opposed - the "a1" plus the D flat of the harp's trill and the F natural of the resonant low-register octaves and the upper tones of the descending violin line (A-E-B-F#-D in sevenths in m. 39 - in reverse direction from motion in sixths in m.12) which would include the harp's C natural.




 

Figure 3: Harmonic Synopsis of Concerto, mm. 20 - 57. Arrows indicate contours of motion in arabesques or interval streams

(with the indicated intervals), straight lines indicate glissandi.

Figure 3a: Referential Perfect-Fifth Structure in Concerto


The closing gestures of the section maintain the harp's expanded F-C-G axis as the winds (flute and clarinet) exchange arabesques reflecting series elements but persistently fixating on the minor third with the clarinet returning to its opening E-G tremolo (m. 52) and the flute rising to the referential high-register F# in a descending tremolo with D# (m. 55). The strings iterate pizzicato and arco open string fifths, tainted upon the entry of the harp's arpeggiations, with C# for D natural (note also the harp's B flat semitone coloration of A natural).
The sonority is crowned by a G# minor seventh (m. 57) in the glockenspiel (supported by the clarinet's glissando from it's mid-register tremolo) which completes the idealized superimposed fifth structure of the texture (see Figure 3a).


 

Section II mm. 58 - 144


The brilliant climactic sonority of mm. 56-57 fades seamlessly to the active but subdued pitch field in the harp with the strings further transforming the configuration of superimposed perfect fifths at the same time as extending it back to the lower-register F natural (m. 64) and reasserting the high-register B natural-F#. The appearance of occasional harmonics in the string texture at this point anticipates the development of this element in future episodes.



Figure 4: Pitch-Registral Synopsis of Concerto mm. 60-105, Circled tones represent static pitch fields.

 


Figure 5: "Toccata" from Concerto First Phrase mm. 78 - 88

The sudden shift in m.69 to an intense mid-register tremolo on a scalic sonority in the solo partitions the aggregate into cycle of fifth segments: D flat, A flat, E flat, B flat, F, C in the harp against open-string arpeggiations, (G-A-E) alternating dynamically between f and p harmonics in the upper strings. The polar F# also in harmonics in the flute evokes its lower adjacent fourths G#-C# attacked ff in the vibraphone in a resonant "signpost" gesture (reflecting the earlier C#-F# of mm. 10 and 22) as the texture begins to merge the two hexachords in the harp's rhythmic graces (A flat -B flat ) onto upper mid-register G naturals and a G-A flat-B flat tremolo in anticipation of the toccata.

The form and balanced clarity of the "toccata" provides relief as a a playful, transient episode of some twenty measures, but also anticipates the intricate fusions and exchanges of timbre with the solo which are explored more freely and extensively in the subsequent "shadowed monologues". The material from the harp's initial phrase (mm. 78 - 87) passes to the piano and percussion as if in canonic imitation (mm. 88 - 98). The pitch material (recalling perhaps the chromatically descending tritone/fourth sonorities in the piano of mm. 10 - 17) is taken from the initial chords of the section doubled between the harp and winds and strings (mm. 78,79 see Figure 5), the focal A flat -B flat shifting in the harmonic texture in the middle of the phrase to A natural-B natural. (The A-natural persists as an alternation in the second chord of the piano's imitation and its subsequent echoes in the percussion.) Against the unfolding imitation in the piano and percussion in mm. 88-97, the harp descends in triton and tritone/semitone figures to a rich ascending line (the "d" harmonic configurations) ; its terse conclusion in m. 98 focuses on high- and extreme-high register groups of E flat, A, G, and B, D, F#, C# reflecting the opening of the series (the E natural having slipped to E flat) and referential F#-C# (of m.10) and final B of the series which following the harp's incisive cutoff in m. 98 slip chromatically (as in mm. 10 - 17) to the stacked fifths B flat-F-C in the sonority of the harp's pause sonority of m. 100.

The sparsely supported cadenza of mm. 100 - 108 effectively liquidates the energy and angularity of the toccata, as it anticipates the following, more sustained monologue with the ensemble. In this process however, it re-traces the ascending low-register chromatic line from the toccata (which culminated in the C natural of the harp's sonority in m. 100) to an exposed octave B natural (and its split resolution to the B-C natural ninth of m.100) which gains further significance as the piece unfolds.

 

Section III mm. 108 - 183

The harp's fluid but rhythmically colorful and complex monologue in m. 109 is "shadowed" in the strings and winds who double and prolong the essential tones of the harp's motives and arabesques (configuration "e" (4)  see Example 2.) The increasingly cyclic harmonic syntax forges a shifted-register return (m. 115, See Figure 6) of the D flat major/E flat major sonority of m. 109 which gravitates further (with the descending chromatic line in the 'cello, m. 114-118) once more to an altered registration of stacked fifths (compare again with m.100, also with configuration "a1" of m. 20) in anticipation of configuration "f" (see Figure 1).



 

Example 2: Concerto para Arpa Harp e Conjunto Instrumentale mm. 138-142





Figure 6: Pitch/Register Synopsis of mm. 105-165 of Concerto para Arpa Harp e Conjunto Instrumentale


Although the inter-resonance of the solo with the ensemble becomes more tenuous in configuration "f, it is restored in the reversion to "e" in m. 125, which is signaled by a return recalling from m.109 a swelling high-register tremolo on B flat. The harmonic fluctuation evolves tentatively to a new configuration ("g") in m. 128 - 130 but "modulates" back to "f" (mm. 131 - 135) and "b" in mm. 136 - 141 (with the same chromatic fluctuations as at the beginning of section II), becoming overgrown however, with descending chromatic motions onto the upper mid-register B natural of m.145.

The fleeting outbreak (m. 145) of a heterophony of arabesques in the winds and piano which disrupts the waning developments of the "shadowed" monologue, projects recognizable fragments from the opening series without however, the initial pitch E natural which is focused with it's chromatic variant E flat in the clear and deliberate shift to configuration "g" (m. 150) in the piano, percussion and harp, notated specifically in a texture of tremoli and ostenati swells. The disintegration of this texture in mm. 151 - 153 however evokes initial regression to elements of "a" of the initial series, and the derived pitch configuration "a1" with the E flat protrusively reiterated by the harp in the upper register. In the first of a series of culminating motions, flourishes of arabesques in the piano and winds are directed to a sustained diminished seventh in the viola and winds (m.160). The extreme high-register E tremolo in the clarinet of this sonority transfers to the harp in a brief return of "g" as a similar climax in arabesques in the upper winds evokes a sustained trill on the quartal sonority (C-G-F) sonority in m. 166.

In m. 167 the "shadowed monologue" resumes in a new pitch configuration ("h") as the previous trilled sonority floats in background glissandi in the strings. New echoes of "a" however arise in the violin and trumpet (m. 172) as well as once more in further ascending flourishes of arabesques in the clarinet and flute (the latter outline minor thirds in superimposed minor seventh sonorities: B-D, F#-A and E-C# in m. 177) culminating this time in a high-register trills and tremoli on E natural. Configuration "h" returns in alternating arabesques in the piano and harp amid deep resonant octave G#s fluctuating to B and F naturals (the final three tones of the series) and sustained tritones in the strings and fourths in the piano/winds. The concluding arabesques of the section in the harp and percussion climb to a clear resonant fifth A-E prolonged by pp in harmonics in the violin (m. 183).

 

Section IV mm.184 - 231

The delicate entanglement of materials, tempi and meters at mm. 184 - 189 can be related in its structural character to the transient heterophonies of mm 139. 263 and 267. In it (Example 3) we see echoes of immediately past events (the high-register fifths A-E in harmonics in the flute, the harps ascending arabesques in configuration "h" and low-register octave G#s) as well as pitch reference to the derivations from the opening series (the trombone's C-F# to F-B natural tritones, the clarinet's figuration involving descending tritones, the harp's tritone tremolo D#-A, also the E natural - E flat oppositions in the harp, violin and trombone, the strings' glissando interval streams in sevenths, sixths, fifths and tritones) as well as events which seem to have a significance in subsequent passages of the work (the close arabesques in seconds and thirds in the flute and clarinet and the strings overlapping lines in high-register harmonics). It is interesting to point out that certain signpost events are missing from the texture, the opening mid-register E-G minor third, for example and the high-register F#. In exiting the complex however a distinctive timbral recall is made in the marimba in m. 190 of the G#-C# (from m. 72 in the vibraphone) which provides registral focal points for the extended "g" configuration of mm. 189 - 217.




Example 3: Concerto para Arpa Harp e Conjunto Instrumentale mm. 184-189

Thus, what can be regarded as the extended "heterophony" in the tempo superpositions of mm. 184 -189 unravels to the longest fixed-pitch registration and most clearly developed textural and dynamic outgrowth of the piece. Beginning in a subdued pitch field in the percussion, piano and harp, the episode is more transparently structured than earlier "lines and arabesque" episodes, with the continuation of the strings in their slow-moving strata of high-register harmonics and glissandi, and the harp's incisive articulations of the upper-register foci on C# (with the glockenspiel) and G#. Another upper mid-register focus emerges around D natural/E flat/C natural in trills and as the initial point of ascending glissandi. The texture of the episode is gradually infiltrated repeated note arabesques, adding a further center on upper mid-register A natural (m. 209) which shifts up an octave to clash with the upper-register G# and, rising as the texture further intensifies to swelling and receding tremolo on A#/B flat in measure 215 (see Example 4).

The dynamic growth of the passage continues antiphonally in opposite directions between the harp and the ensemble in a series of dramatic exchanges that brings the section to its poignant cutoff in m. 231. The upper-register A#/G# becomes the point of departure for a gently descending chord stream in the flute, and clarinet (m. 216) to which the harps responds with its incisive arpeggiations (mm. 217- 218) from high C# against iterations of low-register B, and in a suddenly exposed moment, skips to an emphatically repeated high F# which serves as a point of departure for subdued (con sordino) interval streams in tritones in the flute, clarinet and strings, the last chord of which is seized by the harp insisting on its high B flat. This configuration ("i" which is clearly derived from the harps arpeggiations of mm. 217 -218) the harp's intensity begins to fluctuate alternating in ascending arabesques with the piano and percussion as the trombone inaudibly (ppp) descends stepwise into the extreme low register from C natural to F natural. Two further biting interjections of "i" in the harp provokes the culminating arabesques in the clarinet to the high F# and beyond in the glockenspiel and flute in a searing 12-tone arabesque.

 

Section V mm. 232 - 309

The section break at m. 232 and its sustained harmonic ambience is similar to those mm. 57 and 183; the shift back to the "shadowed monologue" is nevertheless striking, and gains in formal implication through virtual repetitions of passages from section III and through the slow reiterative pulse in the harp of extreme low-register B naturals and B-C# ninths. A more immediate reflection from the preceding section arises in an extended mid-register repeated-note figure on C# (from the harp's figures of mm. 217-218) and the chords in rhythmic unison between the harp and winds in mm. 253-254 anticipate those of the upcoming chorale. At this point (m. 256) the flow of events breaks into a series of fragments in the harp (based around the opening tones of the series E-G), flute (m. 260 "rapido, violentissimo" against improvised glissandi )in the harp and piano and the bursts of "filigree heterophony", the first of which is a recall of mm. 139-140, with the second (in the winds and percussion) adapting to the re-emerging "g" configuration. In response, the swelling high C natural tremolo in the harp and it's the decline of it's incisive arpeggation of "g" evokes more distant recalls of the extreme-register F and G octave polarities (m. 275-277 - see mm. 52-53) which persist to the entrance of the 'chorale" in m. 282. (the D natural harmonics).


Example 4: Concerto para Arpa Harp e Conjunto Instrumentale mm. 213 -218

The dense chords of the "chorale" which trace a variety of structures continue the logic of the "shadowed monologue" by which the instrumental ensemble provides a pp background doubling of the soloist.. While only two of the eleven sonorities are whole-tone (the third and last chords see Figure 7) others are near whole-tone sonorities (i.e. five of six tones in a chord belonging to the same whole-tone scale as in the first, seventh and tenth) and the first chord is nearly identical to the last which resolves' it's E# to an E natural to form a complete whole-tone sonority. The superpositions in the glockenspiel in the third through sixth and in the eight and ninth sonorities reflect that of the closing climactic sonority of the first section and dynamically each chord in the harp has a different indication with emphasis on the first, fifth, seventh and last (11th) chords. While the first, fourth seventh and final chords have the same top notes (the upper mid-register G-B  third suggestive of configuration "i", mm. 217-229) the seventh is most distinctive since it is fortissimo and breaks the continuity of the accompanying "halo" in the glockenspiel.

 


Figure 7: "Chorale" mm. 282-292

 

The return of the harps punctuating arpeggiation of g in m. 293 (a virtual recall of m. 272) makes the significant shift of the high-register C natural to C# which figures prominently in the transition to the coda. The harp produces one further critical recall in mm. 297-299, perhaps the clearest of all, of its earlier fixations on upper-register B= leading into configuration e (mm. 109 and 125). Here, however the monologue gravitates back to g emphatically extending the high-register tremolo C# in a tritone leap to G natural. This gesture is apparently resolved at the close of the section as the harp is drawn to middle C# and low-register G to G flat reflecting, in the opposite register, the referential C#-F# .

 

Section VI (Coda) mm. 310 - 350

The return in the marimba of the opening mid-register E-G evokes a violent low register F#-A in the harp which underpins the continuation of configuration "g". The series unfolds in the ensemble, recalling the important pitch registrations of "a" as well as important harmonic and chromatic derivations from the opening measures, some of which are fleetingly superimposed upon the harp's arabesques and arpeggiations: the A-C-E-G minor seventh chord in tremoli in the percussion which shadows the clarinet's unfolding of the opening tones of the series (E-G-A-D), the B flat-E flat fourth now split and prolonged in trills between the trombone and vibraphone and flute. The fourth C#-F# is once again in the high-register piano but here as a fifth, and while it is similarly affixed to the low register C natural of the series, the subsequent F natural of the series is also included in the to make the low-register fifth F-C. The final tone of the series, the B natural, as in the opening, is delayed, here in m. 319 via an ascending glissando over a minor ninth in the trombone from mid-register B flat.




Figure 8: Pitch/Register Synopsis of mm. 320-350 of Concerto para Arpa Harp e Conjunto Instrumentale

Building on previous low-register motions throughout the piece, the B-natural along with the referential high-register F# become the ultimate registral goals of the closing of the Concerto. The F# is reached emphatically in the piano and violins in m. 324 and prolonged through the first of the closing pitch fields in mm. 325 - 329 (note also the return of the major trichord "halo" E-F#-G#, in m. 330), and again reasserted in the violin and harp before the harp's final cadenza. Here the harp plays with the G#-F# major second in it's mid-register figuration and in its upper tones traces an extreme high-register line of F# (the goal in m. 330 of a glissando crossing all registers) descending to high F natural (echoed in the piano and violin ), skipping to D, and rising to E natural amid residual inner-voice chromatic motions and persistent low-register iterations of the major ninth B-C#, the last of which is sustained in a dramatic solo resonance.

The closing complex, upper and high-register pitch field is progressively filtered, at first to a diatonic E major and finally faint chromatic neighbors around the fifth, B-F#, in an ethereal ambience anchored by the sustained low-register B natural (in the 'cello) and the cool resonant upper-register harmonics on F# (in the harp and glockenspiel) as the clarinet descends chromatically in a delicate rustling tremolo from mid-register A-C# chromatically, through A-C natural, A- B natural, to A-B flat (the descending chromatic line once more from mm. 10 - 17), as the piano echoes the harp's final rising step from E to F# against the soloist's closing glissando to rich and distant low register octave B naturals.

 

Commentary

The musical language of Peixinho's Concerto thus involves an intuitive confluence of a variety of elements from the series to fixed-pitch registrations, equal-interval structures (i.e. structures generated by superimposed fifths, seconds, or thirds ), chromatic fluctuations, subtly directed linear motions, centers of harmonic and tonal attraction and interaction and underlying designs of balance and return. Peixinho's words on these issues are perhaps the most informative:

In my case I tend towards freedom and I tend towards rigor. I intend that this freedom, the freedom of creation, the options which at each moment are presented to me (since I am going here and not there that I took this decision and not that) always tempered with a very strong principle of rigor. A rigor which could be an a priori rigor, a predetermined rigor, which exists at times in my work, but which I must confess, is born in most cases a bit afterwards. It is a posteriori that I will "rigorize" all this freedom in terms of organization, of musical spaces, of the various dimensions of time, of the relations of intervallic tension and distension (factors which all in all, coordinate all aspects of the melodic and harmonic language in all its dimensions), the logic, for example, of the use of each one of the voices, components of the musical discourse, of the parts of the polyphony, and the logic of the function of timbral which appears to me to be fundamental. (5)

What are perhaps the most captivating aspects of Peixinho's late music are its delicate refinement of texture, its fluctuating and often tangled transparency of timbre and finely tuned sense of formal order and balance. The Concerto, in its particular relation between the ensemble and soloist roles, poses a unique perspective on the issue of "multiplicity" which is central in most of Peixinho's late music. Although more fully developed examples of his interest in a complex and evolving "stream of consciousness" texture of independent lines of activity are to be found in works such as the Notturno no Cabo do Mundo (1993,Sonata for Three Pianos) and Já a Roxa ManhãClara (1995, for choir in 5 groups) this element is significant in the Concerto in relief of the linearity of the "shadowed monologues" in the "lines and arabesques" passage, the brief but significant central episode of superimposed tempi, and also in the persistence of the slowly extending lines in the high-register strings throughout the work which seem to form its ultimate pole of attraction. Similarly while earlier pieces such as The Missing Miss (1985, for solo violin) are more clearly dominated by symmetrical episodic structures and the play with equal interval (fifth and whole-tone) spaces and Estudo V, Die Reihe-Courante (1992, piano solo) by the abstract conception of the series, these elements are integral to the Concerto in a rich and subtly balanced formal/dramatic design, tempered by fertile tonal sensibilities which allow each work to evolve it's own unique story relative to its own circumstances and the ever-expanding vistas of Peixinho's musical language.





1. In "Introdução a um estudo sobre o "Estudo V, Die Reihe-Courante - para piano," In Jorge Peixinho in Memoriam ed. José Machado, Lisboa: Caminho, 2002, pp. 210-211.

2. Program from the premiere performance May 6, 1995 Encontros Gulbenkian Música Contemporânea by the Grupo de Música Contemporânea de Lisboa, Mario Falcão soloist.

3. While configuration "a" is the series in with the original orientation of materials, "a1" is the particular configuration to emerge initially at m. 20 .The reader will also notice an apparent structuralism of in the change of tempi throughout the pitch/register synopses. This is clearly a critical aspect of the structure and perhaps even the pre-compositional design of the work, it does not however seemed to be related to the overall episodic structure of recurrence of pitch/motivic materials.

4. Configurations "f" and "g" in Figure 1 are clearly similar, if not related chromatically. They do however seem to have distinctive distributions - "f" throughout in the "shadow monologue" and "g" momentarily in the "shadow monologue" but also consistently in other passages. The ringing upper-register G#-C# in the percussion of m. 72 would appear to be a foreshadowing of this pitch configuration.

5. Jorge Peixinho interview with Eduardo Vaz Palma Journal da Música Portuguesa no.1, October 1995, pages 4-17.