the chasm gaped and glowed

for flute, clarinet in B♭, violin, viola, cello

2021–225–10 mins

A chasm, a deep harsh cut in the landscape that gradually grows over and heals

(Day)dreaming, I imagined a mysterious nocturnal landscape in blocky pastel colours. A deep harsh gash digs through it as if the land is brutally torn by a giant plough. It gradually becomes grown over with vegetation, flowers and sheltering trees, until the gash is calmly absorbed back into nature.

While the chasm gaped and glowed is not literally telling that story, that “vision” helped me structure the work and develop its extremes. The deep harsh gash materialises at the central climax, where I ask the strings to create a scraping rasping noise by pressing hard with the bow.

I wanted to bridge the raw, mysterious landscape and human emotion without becoming sentimental. The opening is unpitched “noise sounds” – the strings play behind the bridge creating a very high and fragile sound, while the flute and clarinet only breathe. I gradually arrive at more melodic music, but it is only slow moving shapes and rhythmically elusive.

Version A is a 5-minute sweep through the arc of the “story.” Version B is called indigo chasm, and expands the first half of version A into 5 minutes itself. The pacing and clarity of ideas are improved from version 1.

The final version, available to play above, is a combination of its two predecessors, taking version B and appending version A’s ‘harmonious’ string harmonics glissandi.

Backdrop by Marek Piwnicki