When I wrote my Culs-de-sac (en passacaille) for string quartet in 2009, it was evident to me that I should develop the sonic soundscape that I have created in that piece. I have decided that I write a cycle of compositions, Les six aspects du néant for string quartet and its subsets. Betwixt-times for viola solo is the fifth piece that I completed in this cycle. In the context of the cycle, this piece would be played fourth, after Culs-de-sac (en passacaille) and before Envoi II for string trio. Working on a piece that could be played on its own, yet at the same time it would make coherent sense when played as part of the cycle, and designing it to be played between two pieces that I had completed posed an interesting compositional challenge on the formal and narrative levels. The term “betwixt-times” is now an obsolete English term, signifying “between-whiles,” “at intervals,” or “now and then.” The word “betwixt” alone is more common even though it is still archaic, essentially meaning “between.” In this piece, the notion of “in-betweenness” plays an important role in deciding many of the compositional parameters. For example, the tempo in this piece for the most part fluctuates between two boundaries, endangering the notion of stability. And more than other pieces in the Les six aspects du néant cycle, the movements of the right hand and the left hand are decoupled, creating performative tensions that arise between the two hands. Thus, the piece is fragilely suspended in this tension, between the completely stable assuredness and the point of collapse. Betwixt-times is dedicated to Anna Pelczer.
Performance History11/21/2018 WP
Anna Pelczer, viola
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
45th International Viola Congress