Richard Cornell: New Fantasias

The Criers woke up to a pleasant surprise this morning - parts and score for Richard Cornell's "New Fantasias," written for A Far Cry, and scheduled to be premiered this fall! (check the Concerts page) I thought you might enjoy reading the composer's initial thoughts, which we received along with the delivery of the music: Dear Criers, I send to you my "New Fantasias," written in June and July, of which there are four. In a fantasia we give free rein to whatever ideas occur, shaping them moment by moment (or so it seems). Actually, we are always striving for large-scale coherence, no matter what goes on locally. In these pieces I continue to explore some of the ideas of my more recent work, and this results in a complex and hopefully rich expression. I invest a great deal in the harmony. I intend that the surface is alive because of harmonic structure and voice leading, and that there is a natural tension in harmony based on tonal forces. In many of the most referential chords there are "tonal" components, usually triads, and some bi-tonal interpretation is possible. I mention this because when they are heard this way they are easier to tune.

Rhythmically I hope there is a perceivable tension between the surface rhythms and the meter, in fact I rely on that. Some of the cadential patterns, for example, happen after a downbeat to give the final sound of the phrase some sort of "lift" into the following silence. (Especially true in the Adagio.) Likewise the attacks are placed within the meter, even between beats, in order to help define the character of articulation. Of course these things are felt naturally, and I know you will find satisfying musical shaping for the phrases.

In the quicker music, there is a kind of concerto attitude where subgroups play against the whole, or where contrasting ideas are sharply juxtaposed (as in the Dance with the pizzicato chords).

Finally, although I have supplied mp3 files generated through MIDI, please don't take these seriously. Despite their supposed accuracy, they flatten out the rhythmic characters I am looking for (there's no verve, brio, or fuoco...let alone real syncopation) and the intonation is completely tempered (always a little frustrating). I am greatly looking forward to working with you all in August. If you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to email me at xxx.

All best, Richard Cornell