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compositionposted on 2023-06-08, 05:30 authored by Martin Butler
In a number of ways Rondes d'Automne can be seen as another piece which attempts to assimilate and explore aspects of folk music - the rhythms, playing styles, textures and modal harmonies of American folk music in particular; although as in all other works of this type no actual folk melodies are quoted or referred to. The title is intended to group Rondes d'Automne with two other works of this type (both written for the Schubert Ensemble, American Rounds and Spring Rounds); 'rounds' implying canonic, playful approaches to the music's material and the use of French both allying the piece with Debussy's wonderful Rondes de Printemps and helping (in my mind) enhance the slightly melancholy, subdued colours of the work's 'autumnal' atmosphere overall. The work falls very perceptibly into two parts, the first and longest being episodic, almost quixotic in its structure with a number of different musical strands interweaving freely and ending with a subdued, quiet descent, the second part far more consistently built out of very limited, almost obsessively repeated motivic shapes in a kind of melancholy 'moto perpetuo'.
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NotesNonet, commissioned for the Cheltenham International Festival, 2011
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