Three American Portraits (1st set)
Instrumentation: flauta, clarinete em A / cor de basset em F, piano, violino, viola, violoncelo
I. Introduction: Wild Horse’s Riding Music, quasi Rodeo
II. Ruralia Americana
III. Finale: Fast Forward & Riffs
Three American Portraits was commissioned by GMCL, and this group gave the first performance of the work at Castelo-Branco in 2002, a concert that was repeated in Serralves and Lisbon. It is one of my most performed works. The Remix Ensemble gave the first performance of the definitive piano version at Casa das Artes in Oporto and Lisbona (CCB), in 2003. Three American Portraits was also played in 2003 at the Festival de Condeixa, by the Camerata SenzaMisura, and a few time later by the soloists of the Orquestra de Câmara de Cascais e Oeiras and the Grupo Instrumental da Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (Brasil), conducted by Cesário Costa. More recently, in 2006 and 2007, Plural Ensemble played Three American Portraits at the Salzburg Festival, and the Orchestrutópica played the piece in Cascais, the same Orchestrutópica that in July of 2008 performed at the festival “Música Portuguesa Hoje”, (Lisbon, CCB), the 11th performance of this work.
One of the most characteristic feature of the Three American Portraits is, in mouvements 1 and 3, the fearsome rythmic complexity, which are generated not only by the irregular metric of each instrumental part, but also by the superposition of several oposite leading voices. The beggining of the 1st mouvement makes a direct reference to Stravinsky’s Concertino, since I thought from the start to make an arrangement of that work for the GMCL. That project was not completed, and I decided instead to write a new piece, an idea which resulted in these three Portraits. I kept the original (only slighty modified) beggining of the piece as an hommage to one of my favorite composers. Simplicity reigns at the slow 2nd mouvement, while the “motorized” 3rd mouvement don’t denies its afinities with minimalism and jazz. For the alternance between fast and slow mouvments, the almost soloistic personality of the clarinet, as well as for the general complexity of rythm and polyphony, Three American Portraits is, in its own way, a short chamber concerto with some connections with Bach’s 1st Brandeburg Concert or Stravinsky’s "Dumbarton Oaks Concerto", to name only two works which fascinates me since a long time ago.
Dumbarton Oaks Concerto