Extravagance

recorded by Stile Nu at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam



This piece began with a score by Carlo Tessarini from his 1736 collection entitled "La Stravaganza." I utilize a movement from this collection in order to explore my own fascination with historically-informed performance practice and with baroque period instruments. In various ways throughout the piece, Tessarini's score is stretched, compressed, stiffened, rung out, shredded, and otherwise greatly exaggerated in order to isolate and display the instruments themselves and the 21st-century performers who use them.

I am interested in the concept that no composer has the ability to create truly original material, but instead is only active in appropriating and re-arranging extant musical materials into unique forms - even when writing purely from intuition. This piece accepts this concept and attempts to resist its negation of creativity by building a piece from an explicit appropriation of material and a re-arrangement that makes thoughtful commentary on the source.

This piece is also influenced by the idea that the historically-informed performance movement that spawned in the 1960s is able to conquer its self-proclaimed pitfalls (most influentially described by Richard Taruskin) by embracing its connection to contemporary sensibility and expression. I understand the movement much in the same way that its postmodern critics did but I suggest that the movement is able to move past performance-based research and instead push its established style further into the current era in an effort to create a classical music culture that communicates more effectively with 21st-century audiences than the traditional style, propogated most strongly by major orchestral institutions.

I hope with this piece to highlight the energy and vigor of baroque music and the thoroughly modern clarity, precision, and starkness of the historically-informed performance movement. By removing many of the harmonic and formal trappings of my source material, I also hope to direct attention toward the instruments that play it—in their mere existence as physical, sonically-capable objects.

This piece is about wood, hair, and gut; articulation, openness, and delicacy; and energy, radiance, and joy.