Suburban Sunrise (2007)
Piano Duet, 12'
The piano duet as a form and as a pairing of musicians at one instrument has long enjoyed an association with leisurely, domestic music-making. The medium demands a greater degree of ensemble than almost any other duo pairing in music, and with it often comes a mischievous theatricality: one pianist often leaping over the other's arms to scoop a handful of notes reachable by no other means. This playful dimension, intrinsic to the very soul of piano duet playing is in itself a source of inspiration for this piece, as is the pace of urban life, especially that of London, the city in which much of the piece was written and from where it derives its title.
The bulk of the work is a virtuosic perpetuum mobile, which establishes itself after an introductory series of rising flourishes. Both the melodic ideas and accompanying figurations immediately become subject to a number of rhythmic games. Musical phrases are always strictly related, but seldom identical, with the motivic repetitions often gaining or missing notes. Irregular time signatures are employed to destabilise the rhythm as it motors urgently along. Isorhythm, diminution and augmentation also feature prominently in the list of transformative processes. At the centre of the piece lies a more reflective passage, but the overall sense of development, transformation and musical symbiosis propel even the quieter music relentlessly forward.
Suburban Sunrise received its world premiere at the Sherwell Centre in Plymouth on 25th January 2008, performed by its dedicatees James Longford and Lindy Tennent-Brown (the Longfordbrown Piano Duo).