Composer note:Intelligent Life
is a five-movement work for large orchestra. While its inspirations lie in afterlife mythologies of the ancient world, it lacks a non-musical program, and should be considered as "straight" music.
The first movement is a heavily veiled march, its drumbeats muted and its themes fragmented. Much use is made of divided and muted string effects, harp, and bass clarinet. The second movement is a themeless interlude in which the chimes which will fully come into their own in the succeeding movement are first heard; the third movement follows without a break.
The emotional and physical center of the piece, the third movement starts off with a passage of otherworldly brilliance and gradually descends through various emotional realms to raw fear. In the middle of the movement a solo 'cello introduces a melody that will become important through the rest of the piece; it also ends the movement with a cadenza that leads into what may best be described as a great peal of demonic laughter.
This laughter is also the beginning of the fourth movement, the only fast one of the lot (and it insists upon the distinction). Great use of virtuosic orchestral effects including "screams," "growls," scales, wide leaps, trills, and polyrhythms is made; at one point there are meter changes in every bar. Gradually the music begins to disintegrate into percussive strokes, incessantly running figures, and timpani rolls as it continues to speed up into the breathless conclusion.
The fifth movement is virtually the exact opposite of its predecessor. Traditional major and minor chords replace clashing dissonances; the tempo is slow rather than fast; the meter remains consistent throughout. Nonetheless, the two movements share much material in common; in addition, they are similar in form, but the finale is less expansive than its predecessor: rather than culminating in a manic fugue, it repeats the opening material to bring the entire work to a tranquil close.Intelligent Life
's first movement was originally an independent piece for chamber ensemble (a quintet of bass clarinet, violin, harp, vibraphone, and bass drum), written in 2004; I orchestrated it in 2006 and added the four following movements, of which the fourth was written last.
I. Moderato (Ca. 4'30")
II. Grave e maestoso (ca. 3')
III. Lo stesso tempo (ca. 7'30")
IV. Allegro (ca. 7')
V. Lento tranquillo (ca. 10')