The night shines forth . . . for ensemble (1994)

by Bruce Christian Bennett


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The night shines forth in its way, from the eyes to the heart.
The night annuls the sensuous, the only pure space.

- Paul Eluard

I first came across this quote from Paul Eluard in Tears of Eros by George Bataille just after I started writing the first sketches for this piece. I found it to be sympathetic to the mood I wished to explore in this music, thus I took it for the title of this piece.The principle musical object of night is a melody which is played in its entirety by the clarinet only at the end of the piece. The first large section of the piece presents two distinct melodic ideas in stark conflict with one another. The first idea is a legato descending three note pattern (minor mode) articulated by grace notes. The second idea is an ascending, tenuto three note pattern (major mode) which is much shorter and fragments into counterpoint. As the conflict between these two ideas escalates, the texture becomes more dense, accompanied by an increase in dissonance, and soon gives way to a section in which previously heard grace note arpaggiations in the piano articualting the structural progression of the harmony comes to the foreground. Two brief efforts are made to uncover the Ur-melody--first by the winds (minus the flute) and pizzicato strings, then by a solo piccolo; however, neither discovers the real melody. The rest of the piece is a gradual effort to calmly reconcile the two distinct melodies from the opening. The final melodic statement in the clarinet achieves the reconciliation of the two conflicting motives from the opening by incorporating them into a single melodic line.


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