Fever Tokens was composed from September to December of 1991. It is about eight and a half minutes.
Over the course of the piece there is a progression from clear, slow, straightforward music to an increasingly louder, denser, more polyphonic music. This progression is not a straight line, but rather there are moments where, like waves, the music backs off somewhat until the next crest arrives. Likewise, there are points in the work where the intensity level leaps upward in a more sudden way. After the climax, there is a soft coda involving the English horn, alto sax and percussion section.
The piece opens with a dialogue between a flute "flourish" and the trumpets' muted chords which follow. After about thirty seconds there is a sudden interruption by the low voices on a C - a foreshadowing of material to come. Besides this interruption, nearly all of the first section is played over a pedal G#, the first element heard in the work. Rounding out this first section is the first extended melody, heard first in the oboe and then in the alto sax.
The register of the piece then moves down and the brass take over. There is again a pedal (less persistent here),this time the F first heard in the repeated note trumpet part. This rhythmic repeated note is present throughout this section, moving from the trumpets to the percussion (playing on drum rims) and finally involving both groups leading into the first tutti of the piece: a sharp, fortissimo chord. Like markers, these loud, sharp tutti chords set off faster flowing lines in the woodwind which in turn back off and peter out.
The next minute or so of the piece is more nebulous with fragments of lines appearing in counterpoint to each other. The sharp chords reappear, disturbing the underlying music in different ways each time, but the softer fragments continue. The last tutti chord sets off the flowing lines again but now they continue on, the ensemble playing a single line in unison propelling the music forward.
Previous elements of the piece now begin to combine in new ways. The low brass lines and the percussion drum rim rhythmic figures come back with bits of the flowing woodwind music coming in at various points. Gradually, the musical density increases. When the percussion drops out, mutations of the flowing woodwind music (now in the low woodwinds and more rhythmically complex), the low brass music, the fast repeated notes (now sharp chords played twice quickly), and even the opening trumpet chords intertwine in a halting texture.
After one last backing off, as a chord is built up, and yet another sharp tutti chord, the low C from the first minute of the piece returns. Everything is then thrown into the mix, and after all that boils over, and the sharp tutti chords are mercilessly hammered, the entire ensemble comes together on a G# (the note which began the piece). The piece ends with a soft coda, with a G# pedal in the percussion over which the English horn and alto sax play around a simple figure.
Non Sequitur Music Publishing
2112 Ontario Street
Bellingham, WA 98229