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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

By All Means (2004)
St. Rose Music Publishing
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Sub Category
Year Composed
9 Minutes
Programme Note
Nico Muhly By All Means (2004)
By All Means was commissioned by the Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music in celebration of their concurrent anniversaries. Each of the six commissioned works was meant to respond in some way to Webern’s Concerto for 9 Instruments, op. 24. My own response to this curious 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 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 coëxist and collaborate: the scattered points of Webern’s orchestration organized together by a Tudor resolution, or the shimmering counterpoint of Weelkes sent astray by sudden chromatic variation. By All Means should last nine minutes and is scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, and piano.

  • 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,,1/25/2010
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