STEUART LIEBIG/MINIM:
Quicksilver

Tune Notes

Quicksilver

 

Mosaic: 23 Miniatures After Haiku
The idea for a piece comprised of a group of twenty-three miniatures for small improvising ensemble has been one that I had kept in the back of my mind and in small sketchbooks for some four years. I envisioned an ensemble in which I would be able to utilize some of the "prepared bass" and less "bass-like" techniques that I had been using for a number of years. Additionally, I wanted to write for some less-usual (for me) techniques for both tuned and untuned percussion and a standard melody instrument. Finally, after many years of languishing as only sketches, these miniatures were written in a fairly short time.
There were a few catalysts for this seemingly sudden turnaround. One was that I had just finished a long-term writing and recording project that consisted of four long-form pieces (now released as Pomegranate, on Cryptogramaphone Records) and, still feeling the creative ferment from that experience, needed the opportunity to do much shorter pieces that were formally less involved (though, as whole group, the overall structure does have some formal complexities and is pretty long!). The second was the decision to move from a trio setting to a quartet setting, thereby opening up more orchestrational possibilities. Third, I decided to base the pieces on haiku; rather than choosing specific poems, however, I chose to base the pieces on some of the syllabic rules of haiku - - while hopefully achieving some of the brevity, feeling and wonder that one experiences from reading this sort of poem.
As such, these 23 pieces are all based on the number 17 - - a piece may have 17 measures, thematic material made up of 17 notes, etc. The overall piece is structured to have a solo piece (four) for each member of the quartet; a duet and trio for the different possible groupings in the quartet (six and four, respectively); and nine pieces for the full quartet. I tried to have contrasting sections and parts that referred back to other parts of the overall piece - - and to evoke differing moods and emotions throughout.

A Single Rosehip Bursts in Praise
This piece was written as part of a collaboration with choreographer/dancer Belinda Cheng. The title comes from a passage in the novel, Art & Lies, by Jeanette Winterson. The piece itself is broken into two major sections. The first is a sort of unfolding that the phrase suggested to me. The second is a more pictorial setting of the action in the book: three people (the characters Handel, Sappho and Picasso) on a subway, each with his/her own thoughts.

Chrysanthemum
This piece is based on the structure of a sonnet: 14 lines of 10 syllables each. In this case, I have "cells" of 10 notes (stated at the beginning and end as two 5-notes chords) that I have treated in a more or less serial fashion in 14 discrete sections. That is, each written section of the piece uses only those 10 original notes, though they are reordered or split between the various players. Again, I have split the quartet that performs the piece into some of its component parts: each player gets a solo and there are four trios, the remaining six sections are for the full quartet. Again, I attempted to have contrasting sections. Whereas Mosaic is played in 23 sections with breaks, this piece is performed as one continuous whole.

 

 

If you want to read reviews on this album, click here.