• Elliott Schwartz
  • Equinox: Concerto for Orchestra (1994)

  • Margun Music (World)
  • 2222/4231/timp.3perc/hp.pf(cel)/str
  • 18 min

Programme Note

During the year, the equinox occurs twice--in September and March--when the number of hours of sunshine and darkness are roughly equal. Those two moments of equilibrium, and the opposite phenomena of summer and winter solstice, appear within a naturally recurring cycle. I am reminded of this cycle every time I look at the door of our kitchen refrigerator, on which we've placed four wide-angle photos of the view from our front window, each taken at a different season. I was interested in exploring similar aspects of balance and cyclical change in musical terms--the equivalent of those photographs in sound. Accordingly, I have tried to work with a fixed "landscape"--a recurring melodic line, rhythmic pattern and chord series--that undergoes gradual change (ever-new foliage, decoration, color, mass, even "temperature" and "weather"), carrying the listener from a musical winter through the following autumn. One can hear Equinox as a single uninterrupted cycle, or as three orchestral movements linked together by two interludes featuring solo instruments and chamber textures. I should also note that the work's sub-title, Concerto for Orchestra, is intended as a reference to the eighteenth century concerto grosso (rather than the virtuoso display pieces of the Romantic era)--a musical precedent, rather than the visual or geophysical models noted earlier, for the interplay of balances and contrasts which dominates this piece. --Elliot Schwartz