Jonathan Pitkin

CROSSED WIRES for two piano trios (2008)

Duration: 21 mins
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Crossed Wires, a 'double piano trio', is a compositional dramatisation of the idea that in professional terms, the two ensembles by which it is performed are likely to be in competition with each other to at least some extent. On a day-to-day basis, their diaries may consist of playing the same sort of repertoire in the same kinds of venues; here, they participate in developmental exchanges in which each seems to be trying to outdo the other, to pull the music in different directions in terms of pitch and speed, or to insist upon their own distinct downbeats or accents. An opposition of sorts is even present in the harmonic idea which underlies this dialogue throughout: a six-note chord, consisting of two three-note 'sub-chords' which are mirror images of each other.
As well as being a double trio, Crossed Wires is also in a sense a triple duo, in which individual players from trio 1 enter into exchanges with their counterparts in trio 2. The pianists' role is particularly important: they share a single instrument, initially taking up conventional primo and secondo roles, but increasingly straying into the territory of the other player. The violins, meanwhile, are directed at various points to take up positions closer to the other instrument(s) with or against which they are playing at that particular time. Only in the final section of the piece are the six instruments brought uncomplicatedly together, eventually coming to rest on a homogenous shimmer, in which each player's contribution is no longer distinguishable.