Steptangle for stamping ensemble

for 8 players
flute, bass clarinet(=clarinet), vibraphone, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello
July 2015; 2’30”

Commissioned by Late Music Concerts.

The Late Music Ensemble, practising the stamping...

The Late Music Ensemble practises their stamping…

Premiere: 1st August 2015, Unitarian Chapel, York
Late Music Ensemble, cond. James Whittle
Late Music Concert Series

Steptangle is a short (in length and temper) tango written by Frederic Rzewski in 1985. The stamping solo pianist hammers a chromatic melody that contorts through crunchy harmony, somehow arriving back at its opening key.

I first heard Steptangle in performance when Rzewski visited York, 1 year and 363 days ago today. His pre-concert talk included insights such as “all good composers steal”, which may be true, and
“programme notes are like vomit bags”, which… Anyway, I thought its repetition, humour and off-kilter harmonic sequences would work well to open tonight’s Riley celebration.

However, I need your help.

I love the idea of stamping musicians, but I’m not sure nine of us will be loud enough. So, you are all invited to join in with the stamping. Make as much noise as you like – and see if you can keep up!