Night is What Remains

Sun Yi, violin
Timothy Walden, violoncello
Magic Fire Orchestra
Conducted by Christopher Gordon

Recorded by Christo Curtis
at Trackdown Scoring Stage 1 March 2009
Alex Henery, orchestra contractor
Edited and mixed by Christo Curtis
at Utopia Audio
Produced by Christopher Gordon

Night Is What Remains

Composed 5-20 May 2005

For strings (minimum, including violin and violoncello solos
This performance is by
This recording was made especially for
© Christopher Gordon 2005, 2009
All Rights reserved

Download score here

Composer’s note:

In January 2003 I composed a piece for solo violin, with a variant for solo violoncello, as an experiment for Peter Weir’s film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. At this time we had only received a couple of short excerpts of the film, as it was still in the early editing stages, so this sketch was really just a stab in the dark and was, quite rightly, rejected on first hearing by the director. At Richard Tognetti’s suggestion I later expanded the two variants into Night Is What Remains. Both the solos remain intact in the final piece (letters B-C and F-G in the score).

These solos are free in time, allowing the musicians to shape their phrases as though performing alone. The orchestral strings sustain each of the soloists notes much as the sustain pedal does on a piano. These free solos are contrasted with a simple, measured, chorale-like figure. A third, arpeggiating idea, which opens the work, lies in uncertain territory somewhere between the measured and the rubato.

The piece plays on an E major/minor ambiguity, the G# sometimes introducing a G# minor triad. Eventually the orchestra simultaneously hammers out both an E minor and a G# minor triad three times in succession. With no resolution achievable the two soloists revert to repeating their earlier solos at the same time but in isolation from each other. The violin ends with a long, high G.