Non Sequitur Music


Play an excerpt of Octet from the beginning of the first movement.

Play an excerpt of Octet from the middle of the second movement.

Play an excerpt of Octet from the middle of the third movement.

Play an excerpt of Octet from the middle of the fourth movement.

These recordings are from a live performance.







Composer: David Heuser
Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones
Year Composed: 1997
Duration: 20 minutes (movements: 4:30, 1:00, 4:00, :30, 4:00, 5:30)
Pages (score): 41
Cost: Purchase: $45.00
Movement I. Opening
Interlude I.
Movement II. Solos and Variations
Interlude II.
Movement III. Fugue
Movement IV. Closing

Program Notes:

Octet for winds is written in four movements with two interludes. All movements and interludes are attacca, played without break. The total time of the piece is about twenty minutes.

My original plan for the piece was that each pair of movements would sandwich an interlude between them, and this occurs for the first through third moments. These interludes do not contain new music, but take their material from the first and last movements. However, the "purpose" of the material is altered; the interludes are transitional, while the movements are the "goal." The first interlude foreshadows the last movement, and the second interlude recalls the first movement, and thus they both serve to bind the piece together. The third interlude would have occurred between movements three and four, and although the interlude is absent (I saw no reason to recall, for example, the music of the second movement here), the last movement begins with the same music we heard in the first interlude, suggesting that we are hearing the original formal design even if I have not called it that way. Indeed, that same music is heard once more, at the end, suggesting a coda, or fourth interlude, which rounds the work off.

The first movement is strong, driving, full of rhythmic syncopations, and a bit cold in its manner. The first interlude breaks this mood briefly, and leads into the second movement, subtitled "Solos and Variations." Here the harmonic language is harsher, although the solos are full of dramatic gestures. The variations are pointillistic with no clear tune, and the demarcations between variations are not meant to be obvious. For those who are interested, there are twelve variations, cycling up the chromatic scale. The movement ends with an echo of the opening solos performed in reverse order. The second interlude brings back some of the simpler harmonies of the first movement before segueing into the quick, triplet music of the third movement, which is a fugue. The theme is repetitive and rather simple, but full of energy. The last movement is slow and expressive, with frequent variations in tempo and warm harmonies. The movement is in four parts: the opening and closing sections, nearly identical excepting dynamics (the first is soft, the last loud), and two internal sections, the first melodically oriented, and the second harmonically minded, rising slowly in an obsessive rhythm of short-long, short-long, short-long...

The instrumentation of my Octet is the same as Stravinsky's Octet for Winds. Although this piece is not an homage to him, his influence on my music has been at times palpable. If any part of this work is for him, it is the opening movement.

This work has also been arranged for Woodwind Quintet.

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