frammenti di recitativo

flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, two percussion, piano, guitar
Duration: c. 5'30"

I wrote frammenti di recitativo (“recitative fragments”) as a work to accompany the 2014 tour of Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon’s stunning cantata Comala. It is scored for the same ensemble as the centerpiece of the program, but without voice. This led me to consider a kind of music that is not immediately “vocal”, but that uses certain vocal technique and style as more of a poetic starting point. Recitative – with its typically constrained pitch and flexible rhythm – was the primary idea that kept coming back to me, and its typical features are abstracted and exhibited as isolated elements in this work. Harmonically, brief sections centering on a single pitch emerge from, and disappear back into diffuse, noise-based textures (white noise, percussive effects, quick harmonic glissandi). Flexible, less predictable rhythms are crosscut with moments of rhythmic regularity (repeating tambora chords in the guitar, pulsing articulations in the percussion), presenting a fractured whole. One of the voice’s many expressive mechanisms – portamento – finds its place in this piece in the string glissandi and in the guitar solo’s tuning portamenti (detuning a pitch while it is still ringing). Throughout, the flute hints at a kind of vocality, with hissing sounds and syllabic articulation (articulating a pitch on a specified plosive and vowel). This suggestion reaches its fruition in the closing moments of the work, as the flutist sings a descending glissando against her sustained pitch.