Parallel Colour

Edmund Finnis (1984)

Parallel Colour 2015

0020 - 0200 - perc (2) - 2 pianos - strings (11111)
Duration 
16
Commissioner 

This piece is in seven short movements. The ensemble of fifteen musicians is divided into two symmetrical groups, with a double bass in the centre. The arrangement of the musicians in the space informs the way the music is designed. Clear and direct patterns of sound are made to move across the ensemble-space, variously heard in canon, in parallel motion, overlapping or closely interwoven. Near-replica harmonies and melodic shapes are voiced alongside one another, exchanged between the instruments, or heard unfolding together at different speeds and in different registers. The piece is replete with tilted reflections and echoes, as if the music is mirrored back on itself.

While writing this piece I held in my mind an indelible memory of a late afternoon spent looking out at the Baltic Sea. On that cold and radiantly clear day the incredible stillness of the water’s surface made a near-perfect mirror of the sea, with the horizon as a sharply drawn line dividing subtly divergent colours.

Edmund Finnis

Comments 

"The symmetrical construction of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group's latest programme reflected the symmetry of the amazing work premiered at the heart of it.

Latest in the long line of BCMG's spectacularly successful Sound Investment commissions, Edmund Finnis' Parallel Colour employs two virtually identical ensembles, facing each other, with a lone double-bass as the linking king-pin. In some ways this symmetry goes back to the two orchestras of Bach's St Matthew Passion, and though Bach uses his forces for dramatic and contrasting ends, here Finnis sees his own more as vehicles for repetition and refraction, as mirror-like as the confluence of sea and sky on a still horizon.

There is sheer beauty in the timbres he creates - subdued, sometimes ethereal - and only towards the too-soon-reached end is there a slight livening-up of activity. [...] its effect was totally magical. Richard Baker conducted a willing BCMG in this premiere of what I would dare to declare a masterpiece in the genre. "
Birmingham Post

Performances 
6.2.16 CBSO Centre, Birmingham: BCMG / Richard Baker
17.6.16 Chelsea Music Festival, New York: Festival Ensemble / Ken-David Masur
18.8.17 Printworks, London: London Contemporary Orchestra / Robert Ames
2
Clarinet
both doubling bass clarinet
2
Trumpet
both flugel horns
2
Percussion
tubular bells / crotales / 2 nipple gongs (medium) / vibraphone / glockenspiel / bell plate / 2 marbles / 2 metal thimbles
1
Violin
1
Violin II
1
Viola
1
Cello
1
Double bass
2
Piano
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