by David Clay Mettens
Hollows takes as its subject a sense of separation, distance, and “in-betweenness.” These aspects are dramatized in the music formally as periods of stasis and quiet between active, busy sections, as well as registral separation of the instruments—piccolo and bass clarinet moving in parallel perpetual motion, and bare, wide dyads in the mid-low register of the piano. These two principal ideas alternate over the course of the piece, however, the piccolo and bass clarinet music from the piece’s opening returns each time wispier or more hollowed out than the last. The first repetition is a mercurial, quicksilver solo for clarinet and the second a blurry recollection of the opening with fluttertongue piccolo and tremolo strings. I was interested in framing or contextualizing the static sections between breathless fast music. As a result, the slow music serves as the expressive core of the piece, while also influencing and transforming the fast music until these contrasting moods reach a kind of equilibrium in the coda. Hollows was written for and premiered by the Aspen Contemporary Music Ensemble.