This piece has been commissioned by ZIMIHC for the European Brass Band Championships of 2018 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and is the set work in the Challenge Section. The work has been dedicated to Chris van der Veen, a good friend of the composer who, together with him, formed the euphonium section of Soli Brass from Leeuwarden during the European Brass Band Championships of 2006 in Belfast, the first European Championships in which the composer participated as player.
In this piece, the Mystic Chord plays a central role. This chord, alternatively called the Prometheus Chord, frequently forms the harmonic and melodic basis of the later works of the Russian composer, Alexander Scriabin. The chord consists of six tones that together form a hexachord, a series of six consecutive tones. The hexachord is composed of successively: an augmented fourth, a diminished fourth, an augmented fourth, and two perfect fourths: C, F-sharp, B-flat, E, A, D. On the basis of this hexachord, a corresponding hexatonic music scale can be made: C-D-E-F-sharp-A-B-flat. The aforementioned hexachord and the corresponding music scale form the basis of this entire piece.
The first section consists of two parts. The first part (based on the mystic chord on C and on F-sharp) starts with an exposition of two characteristic atmospheres which will recur throughout the piece. The first atmosphere has a determined character and features short melodic motives, fixed rhythmic patterns, and technical passages. The second atmosphere has a contrasting, mysterious character and features lyrical melody lines, thrilling musical fields, and solo contributions from the cornet and the euphonium.
After the exposition of the two atmospheres, a second part with a continuation of the thematic material from the exposition follows based on the mystic chord on B-flat and on E. In this part, short percussive motives, fixed binary and ternary rhythms, and technical passages are used on the basis of the corresponding hexagonic music scales: a reference to the first atmosphere with the determined character. In addition, several recognizable major and minor chords can be distinguished, based on the tones of the mystical chords that have been used before.
The first section ends heroic, after which the soloists from this section (cornet and euphonium) carry over their role to the soloists of the second section (soprano cornet, flugelhorn, tenor horn and baritone).
The second section is also characterised by three different musical atmospheres that gradually transition, one into the other. All three atmospheres are based on the mystic chord on A and on D. The section starts out with a solemn atmosphere which might evoke the image of a procession with the listener. As the procession develops, more and more instruments take part in it. This creates a clearly distinguishable dynamic structure that turns into a mysterious atmosphere at its peak. This atmosphere is a clear reference to the second atmosphere of the first section; it is also characterised by lyrical melody lines, thrilling musical fields, and solo passages. The third atmosphere is a triumphant one and resembles the solemn atmosphere from the start of the second section. However, here the orchestra plays dynamically to the maximum from the start and works towards an intense climax. After this climax, the second section ends with a repetition of the mysterious atmosphere. For the last time, we can hear the solo contributions of the soprano cornet, flugelhorn, tenor horn and baritone.
The third section consists, like the first section, of two parts, both also based on the mystic chord on B-flat and on E. The first part starts out in a trance atmosphere which features the use of the drum kit, an upbeat rhythm, and dynamic effects. Subsequently, the trance atmosphere and the recurring, determined atmosphere from the beginning alternate. A few funky motives have been added to the recurring, determined atmosphere from the beginning with its fixed rhythmic patterns and technical passages. At the same time, the drum kit continues all the way throughout this section. In the last, euphoric trance section, the final soloist plays a central role: the trombone.
The second part forms a bombastic ending to the piece. It is characterised by a heroic and triumphant apotheosis. These are musical winks to the climaxes of the first and second sections. With the means of triad chords in major based on the six tones of the hexachord, C, F-sharp, B-flat, E, A, D, the piece comes to an exhilarating end.
|Hendrik de Boer