Balanced on Two Points

flute/piccolo, Bb/Bass clarinet, violin, viola, violoncello, percussion (vibraphone, crotales, 3 gongs, 4 woodblocks, 2 bongos, low tom, bamboo chimes)

Duration: c. 14'

In the sextet, Balanced on Two Points, there is a continuous shifting, in pitch and rhythm, from stability to instability. The opening of the work presents both pitch and rhythm in an unstable, flexible state. Pitch is elusive, giving way to the imprecise sounds of air noises, glissandi, key clicks, unstable harmonics, and bow noise. Steady tempo and regular rhythms are avoided in favor of accelerating and decelerating figures, and less predictable rhythmic groupings.

In the second formal section of the work, rhythmic activity dissolves into an area featuring long, unembellished tones, offering a stretch of pitch stability. As the piece progresses, these relationships continue to realign, with pitch and rhythm cycling through various stages of flexibility. A rhythmic, pitch-obscured cello solo opens up into a brief section featuring pizzicato strings and staccato figures in the vibraphone and winds, offering just a glimpse of the entire ensemble unified and stable. As the work draws to a close, irregular gong figures accent a soft flute and clarinet duet of air sounds, accompanied by timbrally and temporally fluctuating open strings. Here, the closing presents calm instability, balancing the agitated instability of the opening.