Title: Incandescence

Year: 2011

Instrumentation: Cello solo

Program note:

To strike two flints creates a spark, to rub two pieces of wood creates a flame. The sound of the cello also depends on such simple actions – friction between bow-hair and string, motion at the point of connection between horizontal and vertical planes; that is the source of the sound we hear, the origin of the energy we feel.

Harry Halbreich, speaking of Scelsi’s 5th String Quartet, suggested that “it is only in a state of apparent immobility that the energy within the sound rises through implosion to incandescence!”

As I write, in the midst of composing my own piece, I find that this statement resonates with my experience of trying to set the sound ‘on fire’ and release its sonorous force. To interfere as little as possible with the already beautiful resonances, just to create the conditions for their flourishing, the form through which they flow. That is my aspiration.

To ‘incandesce’ is to emit both light and heat, to glow with heat.

It is dedicated to Jean-Guihen Queyras, whose performances and recordings have been, and remain, an inspiration to me.