© 2017 James (Ka Wai) Chan

leaden circles

for solo piano and orchestra

First performance by Jack Redman (piano) and the Royal Northern College of Music Brand New Orchestra

Conducted by Sergej Bolkhovets

        

Instrumentation

2.afl.3.3.3 - 4.3.2.btrbn.1 - timp(w/susp.cym).perc(3):susp.cym/tam-t/

vib/BD/crot - solo pno. - 12.10.8.6.4

Programme Note

'First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable.' - Virginia Woolf

The piece takes its title from Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, and it is how she described Big Ben striking - 'The leaden circles dissolved in the air.' The piece relates to this in many ways. In the novel, Big Ben serves as a symbol of the passage of time, and this is one of the focuses of the piece. I wanted explore the distinction of 'clock-time' and 'perceived-time' when listening to a piece of music, and delineate the perceived flow of time. This is often done by exaggerated proportions and playing with how different kinds of material affects the way time is perceived.

 

The piece also relates to the image of 'leaden circles' more specifically in that it is the impressions that the striking make, but not the striking itself. So the piece starts with rich texture and harmony but then this gives way to hazy material, almost like a shadow cast by the previous section. This also takes the form of almost like a stream of consciousness which also parallels the novel. Towards the end the two kinds of material starts to interact and we end in a middle ground between the two.

 

JC