Last modified 31 August 2015

Thoughts, Places, Dreams (2013)
(Solo Cello and Chamber Orchestra)

by Roger Reynolds

Thoughts, Places, Dreams is an exploration of the musical and expressive spaces laid out in two short works for solo cello: image/cello and image/cello. The idea for beginning a series of complementary solos for different instruments came into my mind when Alexis Descharmes asked for a contribution to his touching project: "30 ans > 30 créations". My goal of complementarity meant that from the beginning, I was thinking about a large space of opportunity, from the subtle and evocative, to the articulate and assertive.

For this project, commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture for M. Descharmes, the Ensemble Court-Circuit, and its Musical Director, Philippe Hurel, I began with the music from the two earlier solos. This material held the "thoughts" to be explored. I also invented a range of derived musical ideas and arrayed them all across a 20-minute span.

The ensemble acts to contextualize the soloist’s positings and ruminations by providing blocks of semi-improvisatory textures such as "pulsing", "intersections", and "brief inflections". These constitute the "places" of the title. There is a third layer of events, wherein the ensemble engages in idealizations of tendencies at work in the other layers (the solo line, the ensemble textures). Four ideals are explored in this way: Freeze, Argument, Intercutting, and Alignment.

So. The piece is a mosaic of often overlapping domains: the soloist’s almost continuous journey and the "places" his line passes through. Idealizations interrupt four times with non-developmental "nows", like dreams.

Thoughts, Places, Dreams is dedicated to my admired friend and colleague, Alexis Descharmes, and to the Ensemble Court-Circuit. It was premiered at the Venice Biennale on 13 October 2013 by Descharmes and Ensemble Court-Circuit, with conductor Dean Deroyer. It was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture.

– Roger Reynolds