I promised that I would write about my re-scoring my orchestral composition "Legacy" for a quartet of clarinet, violin, cello and piano and the challenges I faced in order to accomplish this, so I'm finally getting around to it. "Legacy" is one of best compositions and it deserves to be heard more often than its first performance. It is extremely difficult to get additional performances by orchestras as most orchestras like to have the honor of the premiere and unless both the composer and/or the work becomes so well known, the work is likely to languish in the file cabinet. When I had the opportunity to compose a piece for the chamber ensemble "enhaké", I immediately thought of re-scoring this work for this excellent group of musicians.
Before I begin to discuss the challenges I faced, the reader may wish to visit my earlier blog on this work to gain insight into my thinking while composing this piece.
Here is the link http://composinginsights.blogspot.com/2007/09/legacy-general-description.html
The challenges fell into two main categories; what to do with the solo percussion parts and how do I cover all the important lines. When there were timpani solos, these were put in the cello or the left hand of the piano. Since fast repeated notes are difficult on piano, I often made the line more melodic. Non-pitched percussion solos like the ones in the toms were again given to either of these instruments. I created pitched lines for these.
Most of the time I was able to cover all the important lines. The greatest challenge was the loss of timbral variation that I had in the orchestral version. For example if I had a quartet of woodwinds playing a line in harmony, I needed to give it to all three monophonic instruments plus the right hand of the piano. I was able to use occasional double stops in the strings so the piano could do something else. In order to create some variety in timbre, sometimes the clarinet has the lead part and other times the violin. The extremely contrapuntal sections caused the most problem as I had to leave some lines out like in the Raga section at the end of the first movement, but I think the effect is still there. The musicians will also find themselves jumping rapidly back and forth between melodic material and background material as I needed all four instruments to play together very often just to cover the important parts of the orchestral piece.
I have some questions about bowings and articulations that are needed to have the group sound homogenious when require and to create the needed contrast when required. I have sent the score and parts to "enhaké" for their comments and I look forward to receiving their remarks.
To see and hear both versions, go to http://www.cooppress.net/legacy_blog.html