About 4 years ago i started a couple pieces. One for piano and another for flute and saxophone which i’m still fiddling around with. At the time, I was working a couple different jobs. Outside of one job I walked past a wall of wisteria and another job seemed to exist inside an area encased in the aroma of honeysuckle. My two favorite things about spring are honeysuckle and wisteria. I find the smell of those flowers completely intoxicating. Which is kind of funny because i’m allergic to every other grass, tree, and plant that grows here in Mississippi. Damn plants and their pollen.
The flute and saxophone was named Wisteria Blooms and the piano work was Honeysuckle Variations. Perhaps I was listening to too much Takemitsu and was in a pastoral mood. (There’s no such thing as too much Takemitsu.)
I finished the piano work. At least at the time I felt i had finished the piano work. It was a set of variations. The Honeysuckle Variations. I remember the night that i wrote it i felt it was some of the prettiest music I ever composed. And a week later I felt some parts of it were the most beautiful thing I’ve ever composed. A few months later I really loved a few of the variations.
I decided it needed something. That the piece felt incomplete.
So I added a string quartet because I love piano quintets and have always wanted to write one. The Quintet for piano and strings by Elliott Carter and Akea by Xenakis are to of my favorite works of all time.
I added the strings and worked out some things and felt the piece was complete. (This was about 2 1/2 years ago.)
A few months ago, I started looking at the versions I had of the piece. Also in between those two versions I tried working out some of the ideas for two pianos with no luck. The material didn’t seem to shine in those earlier versions. They still needed something.
[Side note: I only feel like I’ve figured out how to properly develop musical material last year. It was while I was composing Constructions for saxophone quartet that it seemed to click. Hopefully it continues to “click” and I can keep making piles of stuff out of the material at hand.]
So now I’ve started on the latest version of the piece. It is for piano and twelve winds (fl,ob, bsn, cl, Bcl, asx, bsx, 2tpts, hn, tbn, tuba). I’ve been able to elaborate on some of the ideas and realize others in new voices which changes the character. The piece seems to be flexing its muscles. growing wings, or whatever metaphor is most appropriate for such occasions. I have about 2’30” composed. The beginning and ending sections. I have a clear path in my head about the inner sections which i do not always have when composing. The title is no longer Honeysuckle Variations since the material is blending together and expanding and the formal structure has changed. Honeysuckle Nocturne for piano and twelve winds is the current title.
This ensemble is the largest group I’ve ever composed for. I’m composing this work for the desire i have to see this musical material stretched to its limits.
I hope it turns out well. I’ve never had a piece go through this many interpretations. I want to finish the work by the holidays and hopefully I didn’t jinx it by talking about it.