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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

By All Means (2004),
Work Notes
Tremolos marked twitchy should be realized as an improvised morse code-like tremolo between the indicated pitches. The effect should be energetic but never consistent. Try to avoid synchronizing with other players. Piano pedaling is left up to the discretion of the performer unless otherwise indicated.
St. Rose Music Publishing
Large Ensemble (7+ players)
Sub Category
Year Composed
9 Minutes
Programme Note
Nico Muhly By All Means (2004),
By All Means stems from a similar interest in the Anglican choral tradition, but with a slightly different set of rules. The commission was from the Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music, and it had to do with reacting to (and writing for roughly the same forces as) Webern’s Concerto for nine instruments, op. 24. My own response to this guideline was to focus on the opening three pitches of the row Webern uses, which, to me, produce a very diatonic outline of a B flat major chord. One of the most delicious psychological reactions I have had to most serial music is that my brain tries to turn twelve-tone music into post-Wagnerian tonal harmonies: thick, rich chords brimming with meaning and profound significance. I suffer from this disorder even when presented with the thorniest Wuorinen or the most inscrutable Babbitt. Listening to the row from op. 24, I was immediately reminded of the cross-relations in Weelkes motets, where a G major chord and a G minor chord can appear in the same bar a split second apart. By All Means is a large arch of several textures in which both Weelkes and Webern can coexist and collaborate: the scattered points of Webern’s orchestration organised together by a Tudor resolution, or the shimmering counterpoint of Weelkes sent astray by sudden chromatic variation.

Preview the score

  • Ensemble
    Aurora Orchestra
    Thomas Gould (electric violin)
    Nicholas Collon
Muhly's witty deconstruction of serialism “By All Means” - again a piece that grooves joyfully, as evinced by Collon's tush-shaking conducting style at key moments. This piece reached peaks of fierceness, rising like a light-hearted discussion straying into difficult territory, then arguing itself to a satisfactory conclusion.
Joe Muggs,,25/01/2010
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