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Double Palindrome (2004)

for flute/piccolo, bass-clarinet & piano

In the period before writing the Double Palindrome I was intrigued by the idea of writing music in which solo lines eventually become ensemble lines. Therefore when the Kaida trio asked me for a piece, I decided to compose solos for each instrument, which can then be transformed into ensemble music. I was hoping to make a musical portrait of each player, each of whom I have known for nearly all of my stay in Holland.

Double Palindrome starts with a repetitive hammering of piano chords. After a short Trio it is followed by a bass-clarinet solo… seemingly without any close musical connection. Once the individual instruments start unraveling their processes in the ensuing trio section however, the musical ideas start to emerge immediately. After some possibly frustrating moments for the listener, pondering about why the piece is called a 'palindrome', or even a 'double palindrome' for that matter, these questions are starting to be answered.

It raises a question about the solo-writing though. The Piano and Bass-clarinet have genuine solos. But what about the flute? Well… I wrote two solos for the flute, but not in the sense of a 'solo performance'. The first solo was named by Karina (the flute player of the Kaida trio) as a "one-note-solo", and consists of long repetitions of a single note followed by a descending scale. The other 'solo' consists of two pitches playing over the bass-clarinet and piano in the final trio. Musically it doesn't look like a solo in the score. For me it is more of a 'psychological solo'… in so far as the flute/ piccolo strongly and consistently plays only one or two pitches, over and over again. This is enough of a 'solo' for me…

In the final Trio, the piano's solo music finally falls into place. Conceptually this constitutes a loose form of a palindrome, which embraces another palindromic idea in the middle section.

The piece is concluded by an epilogue, which is free in its' timing and serves as a release of energy. This epilogue is a true Palindrome. The harmony was taken literally from the piano part of the middle trio. It asks for free timing and total relaxation from the players.

I express a big appreciation to the MacDowell Colony, who provided me with beautiful circumstances in which to start and finish Double Palindrome.