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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

Honest Music (2003)
Work Notes
Download pre-recorded element HERE
St. Rose Music Publishing
Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
6 Minutes

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Programme Note
Nico Muhly Honest Music (2003)
On the page, the violin part for Honest Music looks something like Terry Riley’s In C, insofar as it’s a collection of discrete, modular phrases to be recombined in “performance,” or in this case, by the electronic manipulation of the recording. But these aren’t Riley’s musical Lego blocks; most of these are long, expressive, idiomatic gestures, combining Nico’s soaring English-choirboy diatonicism with Romantic, violinistic leaps and slides up and down the fingerboard. As these figures pile on top of each other, the close-miked, aberrant fiddle timbre comes to seem, as per the title of the piece, brutally candid.

The other fragments, imitated in character by the sputtering harp and percussion of the accompaniment, sound more like scraps swept from a cutting-room floor somewhere - all false starts, warm-ups and afterbeats - and the glitchy, staticky noises in the background contribute to the sense of something rough, half-finished. The result is to suggest that all of Honest Music is an out-take, a rehearsal for another, wholly imaginary piece. But the gravity and authority of the harmonies (and the low drones) lend the makeshift nature of the piece an authentic drama in its own right: the sad beauty of things coming together and things falling apart.

  • Soloist(s)
    Clarice Jensen, Cello, Nico Muhly, Celeste, Monika Abendroth, Harp, Carol McGonnell, Clarinets, HIldur Ingveldarottir Gundnadottir, Cello, Lisa Liu, Violin, Monika Abendroth, Harp, Nico Muhly, Piano, Samuel Z. Soloman, Percussion, Nadia Sirota, Antony, Vocals, Kyle Covington, trombones.
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