Pulsation: Piano Quartet no. 1

Lawrence Kramer

About this work:

     The title Pulsation is a literal description of what happens in this single-movement
work for piano quartet, but it also alludes to a famous passage from William Blake:

     For in this Period the Poets work is done: and all the Great
     Events of Time start forth & are conceivd in such a Period
     Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery.
                                                                               (Milton, 29: 1-3)
     The basis of the music is virtually unbroken eighth-note pulsation in the strings at the heartbeat tempo of quarter note = 72; departures from the pulsating texture are highly marked.   The piano plays both with and against this pattern, which it continually varies and transforms and ultimately draws into a state in which time slows and even, for a moment, seems to stop.  A further layer of pulsation is added by the repetition of whole segments at irregular intervals throughout.  The string tessitura is deliberately restricted,the upper strings in particular being kept largely away from their higher registers. The aim is to create a complex, acoustically rich musical space in which listeners, led by the piano (which in a sense speaks for their listening as a form of imagination), can become wholly absorbed and perhaps catch an echo of the fundamental pulsebeat in which Blake located the origin of creative energy.

Year composed: 2011
Duration: 16:00:40
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Piano Quartet or Quintet

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