Although normal life hasn't fully resumed, the piece that began in quarantine is finished! Read Mischa's reflections on his process (with snippets of the original hand-written score), plus hear how he decided on the title Anechoic Rhapsody in the Zoom chat with Yuan-Qing Yu below:
"So I’ve come to the end of the journey here. The process for every piece is different, but what I do notice about my process that is consistent is that when I reach somewhere past the half way point, the full shape of the piece is revealed and the music just pours out. It is almost like finishing a puzzle where it is so obvious where the remaining piece fit. When I got to the half way point of this piece, a question that had been weighing heavily on me was, “where does the piano come into it’s own and why”. For a vast majority of the piece, the piano plays the role of instigator; it provides the impetus for action, but in and of itself is more or less supportive of that action whereas the violin, cello and clarinet carry the primary melodic material and gestures of the piece. The piano is the “pump” for the heartbeat, but note the heartbeat itself. And yet to assume that this is a subsidiary role is completely wrong. It is the divining power behind all that happens; the harmonic foundation, the disruptive rhythmic force and the establishment of tone at all times from which everything else emanates. And as I was approaching a climax of sorts where the piano was increasingly assertive in these arenas, I realized it was trying to break free to reveal itself as this undeniable force:
It was at this point that I realized the piano needed to deliver a forceful soliloquy; the curtain drawn back revealing the wizard. This piece is jam-packed with content in a way that many of my works are not (which is an exciting departure for me). But this content is all anchored by the fact that it works in coordination with a harmonic force that has been ever present in the piano. This consists of rising intervals (two note chords), each one increment smaller or larger than the last, that combine through the use of pedal and sometimes through simultaneous playing to create harmonic superstructures or rather, “really big chords”:
At the point of highest energy in the piece, the clarinet, violin and cello all drop out and the piano begins with ferocious iterations of the rising intervals carrying the energy of the previous music into this proclamation of identity:
After this initial “rant”, the profusion of content that saturates the work is gradually revealed in cameo-like appearances amidst the piano’s ferocious energy in a moment of clarity where genesis and the creation collide:
The rest of the ensemble returns as abruptly as it departed under the cover of a mass of piano sound. Although this moment is completely different in tone from the beginning of the work, it is in essence exactly the same in terms of pitch, rhythm and gesture (heartbeat). What is different here is the distribution of content; now it is the violin, not the cello that carries the main melodic material, sounding almost like a distant descant (a Beethoven inspiration). Over the course of the final 2 minutes of the work, this descant floats from the uppermost reaches of the violin’s range to down to a point where it is picked up by the clarinet and descends to the clarinet’s lowest note. In essence, the entire work has been a pull between ascending gestures (rising intervals) and descending gestures (pulsing chords) and this final decent brings us to the original sense of calm reflection that was the primary inspiration behind its creation.
All that remains is to come up with a title……HELP!!!"