Program notes

One Sound – Quintet for flute and strings, opus 90 (2012)

One Sound – Quintet for flute and strings (flute with 2 violins, viola and cello) was commissioned by the Australia Ensemble at the University of New South Wales and premiered by them in 2012. The work was composed over the summer of 2011-12. One Sound is in a single movement of about 14 minutes duration and explores the possibilities inherent in a single phrase heard at the outset.

The work’s title has no precise meaning but simply refers to the opening unison note. The note splits into a fifth, a downward scale and then a rising sixth. Everything spills out from this single melodic cell – the endless possibilities of a cell dividing and growing but always keeping the plan of the original cell. The pattern of the small scale and the large scale are ideally one and the same. The shape of the work is in three large sections – a structure that recalls an earlier work of mine, Endling for orchestra.

© Andrew Schultz, 2012

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Peter McCallum explained the work this way:  “By selecting the title One Sound for his quintet for flute and strings, Andrew Schultz was suggesting that a single sonority, as heard at the start of this piece, contains a galaxy of intervals and musical cells to be unfolded, explored and released.

Initially limiting itself to the most fundamental of these possibilities, the first section explored controlled, regular rhythms of clearly defined shape. When combined with harmony that sought, as it were, to derive itself from first principles, the effect was a bright pristine quality, rejoicing in contrapuntal discipline, particularly in the upper voices.

The second section moved to a warm chorale-like texture in lower strings, out of which leapt cadenza-like flourishes, sporadically at first before they proliferated in the final section with spectacular brilliance.

In keeping with the title, the overall shape was unified and whole, and the affirmative clarity of form and idea struck a new and intriguing tone.” [Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 2012.]