Pierre Jalbert's Secret Alchemy Debuts in Arizona
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music debut Pierre Jalbert’s new ensemble piece Secret Alchemy on March 11. Scored for violin, viola, cello and piano, the work is a meditation on the creative process, which the composer likens to the methods of a medieval chemist. Jalbert comments:
The first movement begins with this sense of mystery. String harmonics are used to create the rhythmic backdrop for melodic lines played by the cello and later, the viola. The second movement is a relentless scherzo characterized by pizzicato strings, turbulent piano writing, and quickly alternating rhythmic patterns. The third movement is influenced by medieval music with its use of open 5ths, chant-like lines played non-vibrato by the strings, and reverberant piano harmonies, simulating the sound and reverberation in a large cathedral. The fourth movement concludes the work with an energetic music characterized by strings playing fast measured tremolo figures (rapid movement of the bow back and forth on the string). These alternate with the piano’s massive chords and occasional rapid melodic figures, along with muted tones emanating from inside the piano.
The performance features pianist Bernadette Harvey, violinist Benny Kim, violist Helena Baillie, and cellist Steven Doane.
Secret Alchemy (2012)
for violin, viola, cello and piano
II. Agitated, relentless
III. Timeless, mysterious, reverberant
IV. With great energy