Robert A. Baker



Valence III

for oboe, cello & percussion

2010 | ca. 6 min

[] Included on SCI Composers' CD Series, Vol. 30
[] Published in SCI Journal of Music Scores, Vol. 48

f.p. 1 Apr./11, Lawrence University, WI, USA
. Howard Niblock, oboe; Miyoko Grine-Fisher, cello; Alexy Rolfe, percussion





Programme Notes

Valence III for oboe, cello and percussion (composed August 2010), is the third in a projected cycle of chamber pieces that contemplates timbral contrast, notions of musical energy, and the dichotomous relationship between continuity and discontinuity. While I consider the second work in the cycle (for clarinet, violin, cello and piano) a proliferation of the first (for solo piano), Valence III is a reconsideration and extension of aspects of both its predecessors. While it is a continuation of my interest in timbral fluctuations and the interplay between micro-tonal and tempered pitches, it focuses less on polyphonic and homophonic textures, favouring at times a dense heterophony of high melodies in the oboe, cello and vibraphone.

The piece is divided into four brief parts; however one might listen for a bipartite form. Parts one and two are comprised of bursts of energetic material, and a more directed discourse that leads to a climactic gesture at approximately the half way point; while, in contrast, parts three and four suggest an extended passage of catharsis or dénouement. By placing this peak in formal energy around the half way mark, more time is allowed for musical consequences to be contemplated, thus raising the status of the post-climactic section, what might typically be considered mere catharsis, to something closer to an equal in its formal proportion and structural significance.