Black Rock Unfolding

Composed in
Violoncello & live-electronics
ca. 16′
First performance
November 7, 2009 at AMUZ in Antwerp (B) by Arne DEFORCE
Commissioned by
Mr. Guillaume Van Mechelen for Arne Deforce
Dedicated to
Arne Deforce & Guillaume Van Mechelen
Luc on “Black Rock Unfolding” :
“Black Rock Unfolding” has been commissioned by Mr. Guillaume Van Mechelen, a 81 years old man who attended a performance of my opera “L’uomo dal fiore in bocca” two years ago and decided to give me a commission for one instrument with live-electronics. Because the Ensemble Champ d’Action, for which I composed “OBAN” back in 1996, was organizing a series of concerts for the occasion of my 50th Birthday, we decided upon a work for cellist Arne Deforce, who had been asking me to write a piece for him since many years.
The title of the piece refers to my last ensemble piece “Cardhu” (written in 2008 for the Spectra Ensemble). Cardhu is a gaelic word meaning black rock. I developed and/or extended some harmonic and rhythmic ideas of that work, hence the unfolding.
The live-electronics consist of three elements, a “freeze” reverberation system which allows the cellist to build chords out of the music he’s playing and which can be heard whenever indicated with the use of a volume pedal, a ring modulator and finally some prerecorded audio fragments. These audio fragments are based on cello samples mixed with resonances of piano, bells and water drops sounds. These electronics were realized with the help of Champ d’Action, with special thanks to Roel Das.
The piece is in one continuous movement in roughly five sections, slow-fast-slow-fast-slow. The first section is some kind of presentation of the main material, basically slow but very virtuoso and with lots of sudden changes in dynamics and speed. The second section is a very rhythmical passage with steady (fast) pulse. The third is a slow development of material heard in the first section. The fourth section is an extended kind of extremely hectic cadenza with amplifying “accompaniment” by what gradually becomes almost an army of cellos. After it’s climax, the music becomes quite rapidly slow again, to end (similarly as “Cardhu”) very quietly and in the high regions of the instrument’s range.
The score is dedicated to Arne Deforce, who first performed the piece on November 7, 2009 in AMUZ, Antwerp (B), as part of Champ d’Action’s Birthday concert, and to Guillaume Van Mechelen.
Luc Brewaeys, 2009