Program notes

Septet No. 2 (Circle Ground), opus 52 (1995)

Septet No. 2 (Circle Ground) is a 17 minute work scored for flute, clarinet, string quartet and piano and was written in mid-1995. The work was composed with assistance from a residency from the Leighton Studios, Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada and was commissioned by the Australia Ensemble with assistance from the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council.

The piece continues the exploration and refinement of a favoured harmonic vocabulary, consisting of a restricted range of chords and some recurrent personal means for their handling, as in other pieces including Ekstasis, Diver’s Lament and Chorale, Demon, Beacon. These harmonies have appealed to me for the continual feeling of suspension and flow they create which occurs through their tonal ambiguity and emphasis on dissonant intervals within a concordant and rich sonority. The subtitle, Circle Ground, refers to both the rounded shape (which is possibly more like a spiral than a circle as it returns, but to a different point) and to the use of ground bass materials in the elliptical manner evolved in pieces such as Barren Grounds and Respiro/Simple Ground. The sections of the work are marked, Calm – Vibrant – Expansive.

© Andrew Schultz, 1995.