Reflections on the Nature of Water
4. “Gently Swelling”
Composer's Notes: Reflections on the Nature of Water is a small payment toward a very large debt. There were primarily two composers, Debussy and Stravinsky, whose music affected me so profoundly during my tender formative years that I had no choice but to become a composer. It is to Debussy that I'd off my hat with these reflections of his magical preludes.
Druckman used Reflections on the Nature of Water as an homage to Claude Debussy, whose Preludes had inspired the young composer. It was Monet’s painting “Reflections on Water” that inspired Debussy’s “Reflections In the Water,” from Images, Book One (1905).
Druckman likewise paints the musical text for the listener by titling each of the work’s six pieces. “Crystalline,” with its thematic material, paints a picture of a change in the water’s consistency. “Fleet,” with a quick pace, ebbs and flows. Sharp interruptions punctuate and disrupt the flow of the piece with a calculated persistence. The third piece, “Tranquil,” exists as a pulsating, almost hypnotic and meditative entity of its own.
Back in 1986 at the PASIC in Washington, DC one of the featured concerts at the Kennedy Center was a performance by marimbists William Moersch, Leigh Howard Stevens and Gordon Stout. This one concert has generated solo music for the marimba from three of the leading composers in the states today, Jacob Druckman, John Corigliano and Roger Reynolds. These marimba works were commissioned by Moersch, Stevens and Stout through the National Endowment for the Arts. Reflections on the Nature of Water is the latest of these works to be published. Premiered and recorded by Moersch on Newport Classic CD records, Reflections is written in six movements. Pulitzer prize winner Druckman indicates in the program notes that "Reflections on the Nature of Water considers some of the many aspects of water through the liquid sounds of the marimba." Crystalline is the tide of the first movement. It is highlighted by irregular entrances of soft and rapid grace notes. The texture is thin and the obvious imitation of dripping water is undeniable. The next movement, Fleet, is a quick excursion featuring digital stick permutation figures. As the piece lifts and falls, dramatic accents are utilized as guide posts to the climax of the movement. This swift style is followed by the slower and serene third movement, Tranquil. Here legato lines are interspersed with gently flowing 32nd note runs and a chorale of sorts is introduced. The last three movements build in momentum creating an explosive ending. Gently Swelling is written over multi-meters and is quite demanding of the performer. An inserted mysterioso section creates a sense of agitation before a return to the main thematic material. The fifth movement, Profound, is freely structured on time intervals and is the most abstract section of Druckman's work. An improvisational feel with punctuated grace note swells bring this movement to a quiet ending. The finale is a driving section based on a sixteenth note triplet figure. Entitled Relentless, this movement is full of dynamic and rhythmic contrast as it builds to the final chord. Reflections on the Nature of Water is approximately 16 minutes long and is written for a low F marimba. However, Druckman has adapted the work for a low A marimba by inserting register adjustments where necessary. This new work for solo marimba will be hard to ignore if you are an aspiring marimbist or college percussion instructor. It requires an experienced performer with dauntless technique. With composers like Druckman writing quality new works for the marimba, it is a sure guess that the marimba world is out of its infancy. - Mark Ford
World Premiere:11/7/1986 - Kennedy Center, Washington DC - William Moersch (marimba)
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Works for Percussion by this Composer