Copyright © 2017-19 by Jordan Kuspa

Collideoscope

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Composed 2014

For violin, viola, cello, and piano

Duration: 18:00

I. Bold, intense

II. Both tranquil and frenetic

III. Steady, unrelenting

 

I wrote Collideoscope at the request of my friend and frequent collaborator Nicholas Leh Baker. Nicholas had the idea to commission a suite of six paintings from artist Gregory Gummersall, and then to ask six composers to each respond to one of the paintings musically. The commission fee for the composers: we kept the painting. When Nicholas approached me with the idea, I immediately agreed and waited anxiously for the artwork to arrive.

 

When I first saw the painting, I was struck by its three large blotches of primary color. Then my eye was drawn towards the looping, calligraphic lines that occupy the middle ground of the painting. After further examination, I noticed that underlying the entire work was a collage of musical scores. Finally, my eye began to travel between these layers freely, with each visual idea influencing the perception of its adjacent features. I took my cues for the musical form from this process of visual exploration, creating a work with three distinctive ideas that form a tenuous coexistence, with each idea refracting and distorting the music around it.

As happened with my Third String Quartet, after completing the piece, I decided I wanted to explore this musical material further. The second movement begins right where the first ends—with a high E major chord, suspended above increasingly intense piano interjections. I view this fleet-footed scherzo as a sort of slow movement, vacillating between sustained string sonorities and fast, intricate rhythmic interplay. The finale brings back many of the harmonic and motivic ideas from the first movement, now with greater rhythmic verve and articulation.

 

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First Performance: November 17th, 2016

Morse Recital Hall, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Nicholas Leh Baker, violin

Chiu-Chen Liu, viola

Andrew Janss, cello
Jessica Xylina Osborne, piano

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Related Works:

Hat Trick

Nitwit, Oddment, Blubber, Tweak

Piano Trio

String Quartet No. 3