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John Harbison

Publisher: AMP

Fantasy Duo (1988)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
Piano + 1 Instrument
Year Composed
17 Minutes

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Programme Note
John Harbison Fantasy Duo (1988)

Fantasy-Duo for Violin and Piano was commissioned for David Abel and Julie Steinberg by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress. It was so completed in July 1988 at Token Creek Wisconsin.

The performers and I were brought together by a San Francisco friend, the Jungian analyst John Beebe, to whom the work is dedicated. Our musical association began with their performance, with Michael Webster, of my Variations for clarinet, violin, and piano, as part of the Chamber Music West Festival.

The Fantasy-Duo is one continuous movement of about sixteen minutes, which divides in equal thirds as follows: collage (or assemblage) leading to a fast dance; extended song; second fast dance lading to a varied return of the collage. This exact symmetry was not pre-planned, bet was extremely satisfying to discover. The urge of the original material to return was initially discouraged and resisted, but it seemed in the unfolding to earn its way back—reposing its original questions in a new light, illuminated by the more fantastical complex world of the central song.

The opening is more calm, more west-coast than my other music, and the whole-piece is balanced by its lengths and symmetries, and by its parity between the players, in a way that owes much to my image of its first two performers. Even the two quick dances, though they both erupt quickly into a large dynamic frame, are poised with the form; Jungian auxiliary functions, extravert-sensation, held within the predominating type—introvert-feeling.

  • Soloist(s)
    Rosemary Harbison (Violin), Robert Levin (Piano)
    Archetype Records:
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