Siskind

two cellos (1999) 6′

published by Sweet Child Music

  • commissioned by Lawrence and Jennifer Stomberg

The cello has long been one of my favorite instruments for a number of reasons, including its luxuriant tone, its wide range, and the many interesting timbral effects that are available on it. I have also noticed over the years that there seem to be many more dual-cellist couples than amo ng other instruments; I’ve sometimes wondered if this is due to the corporeal contour of the body of the instrument (the famous photo by Man Ray comes to mind), and the way that players embrace their instruments as they play them. It thus seemed appropriate for me to write a duet for my cellist friends Lawrence and Jennifer Stomberg.

The main thematic idea of the piece is the slow unfolding of ascending scales in overlapping canons. These scales “open up” by evolving from octatonic scales through the different types of diatonic modes and then the whole-tone scale. The large-scale formal design is built upon the pitches of the open strings of the instrument, used as the progressive tonal centers of the piece; these tonal centers are demarcated by strummed chords. Numerous other timbral effects are incorporated as well, often used in free cadenza passages.

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