Nico Muhly: Motion

I came across this piece in a concert I recently went to performed by the Scottish Ensemble.  I had never heard of this composer before, and coincidentally he was born in the same year as me so I was particularly curious to hear his work.

The piece starts with a brief flurry of instruments (the clarinet is quite noticeable), followed by some sparse notes on the piano and pizzicato on the strings. Then a moment of silence, and it starts over again.  This start-stop effect definitely grabs your attention from the beginning, I thought the long rests were very effective.

As the piece developed a word that came to mind is ‘soundscape’; often the different lines seem a bit random or unrelated to each other but it does somehow immerse you into the overall sound.

Towards the end the piece builds up both in texture and dynamics – lots of long sustained notes in the wind and repeated piano chords.  It’s quite dissonant here in places; I think this adds a sense of anticipation as you wait for it to resolve / finish.

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