Under the Sun's Gaze

(Concerto da Camera III)

Shulamit Ran

Performing Ensemble: Chamber Ensemble
Duration: 19:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

"Under the Sun's Gaze" as a title for a musical composition conjures up many possibilities. It is, in fact, an imagined line from an unwritten poem, invented with the idea of capturing something of the visual aura the sounds and energy of this work invoke in its composer mind. An omnipotent presence in all of nature, a source of life yet also capable of its destruction, the sun affects the light and dark in our physical existence as it defines the daily and seasonal life. The music of this work, in three interlocking parts, takes turns being exuberant, caressing, scorching, receding, hazy, lazy, blazing, dissolving into darkness, blinding in its intensity.

Subtitled Concerto da Camera III, this work is written for what has become known as the standard Pierrot instrumentation of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano plus percussion. The difference here is that the winds are doubled -- the two flutists alternating with piccolo and alto flute and both clarinetists also doubling on bass clarinets. The ninth member of the ensemble, a soprano saxophone, appears well into the piece, its lyrical, plaintively expressive quality dominating the musical terrain for a while. While occasionally joining the others for some tutti outbursts, it maintains its position as something of a guest throughout.

Of the various thematic ideas that populate this work, a six-note descending line played by the clarinet appearing right at the work's opening then arching back up reveals itself, as the music unfolds, to be the principal melodic building block of Under the Sun's Gaze. Its various transformations include the plaintive soprano saxophone melody appearing in the middle section. Just under 20 minutes in length, the work in its totality can be heard as being in a loose arch form, its ending receding into a distant darkening horizon which carries in it the seed of the new dawn that lies beyond.

Under the Sun's Gaze was commissioned by the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress for the San Francisco Contemporary Players, David Milnes, conductor.

Additional Information

Commission For the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, David Milnes, Director
Composition Date 2003-2004
Orchestration 2(dbl. AltoFl., Picc.) 0 2(dbl. 2B.Cl.) 0 Sop.Sax. - 0 0 0 0; 1Perc. Pno. Vln. Vcl.
Premiere April 25th, 2005. San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, conducted by David Milnes.

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