In Concert (2000)
ten instruments

Robert Morris

Program Notes

In Concert was written in June, 2000 and dedicated to Bradley Lubman and the Eastman School of Music's Musica Nova Ensemble. The piece is scored for ten instruments divided into four ensembles of one to four instruments. There is a piano solo, a flute and bass duet, a string trio, and a wind quartet (clarinet, english horn, french horn, and bassoon). Each ensemble has its own basic musical character, although it may imitate the character of one of the other ensembles at some points in the piece; the flute and bass duet is garrulous, the wind quartet sober verging on the austere, the piano nervous and flighty, while the string quartet is demonstrative, sometimes playing in unison. While I have employed this practice of partitioning a chamber ensemble into smaller instrumental units in many of my previous chamber works, the differences between the units are used for contrast and either remain unaffected by each other or engage in various kinds of dramatic conflicts. Here the units engage in cooperation and mutual support so that each ensemble has extended passages either alone or lightly accompanied by another. These cooperative passages contrast with sections where all instruments play together, often decorating and elaborating a slowly unfolding series of notes that the entire ensemble plays in unison. One can therefore hear In Concert as an adaption of the Baroque concerto grosso, although that was not in my mind as I composed this piece. Rather I like to think of the work as an application of musical democracy, where individuality and group action are not in opposition.