Every so often I will make a new version of a piece by another composer. These might be straight arrangements, or creative re-compositions, or something in between, or farther out. Recently I undertook two new versions, and made a new version of an old version.
Ardent fans will recall my repurposed 2011 masterpiece Erased John Cage, in which I created a negative of John Cage’s Suite for Toy Piano by replacing notes with rests and rests with notes. I was pleased with the results in general, but specifically the orchestration I chose, a normal chamber orchestra, was badly imbalanced. Further, I thought the mixing of timbres didn’t reflect the original sound of one instrument. So I made a new version for 4 clarinets, 3 trombones, 3 cellos, and percussion, and I’m a lot happier with it. It’s also been re-engraved and generally sexified.
Before embarking on a series of new pieces – about which more shortly – I undertook a couple of arrangements, just for the fun of it. Because I have a weird idea of fun. The first was an elaborate orchestration of three introductions to Renaissance requiem masses by Orlande de Lasso, Jean Richafort, and Pierre de la Rue that I have called, shockingly, Introitus. The orchestration is elaborate, for 16 winds and 4 percussion. The idea was to stack great harmonic architecture atop the original polyphony until the pieces stagger under their own buttresses. (See what I did there with those metaphors.) Each movement is different, with the first emphasizing heavy bombardon octaves, the third ringing with tintinnabulating triads, and the second sprouting fake spectral dissonances.
After that I made a weird version of legendary Icelandic composer Jón Leifs’s Icelandic Dances, originally for solo piano. I had forgotten the composer already did an arrangement of his own for orchestra, but mine is for a rough mixed ensemble of low winds with violins and basses. It’s sort of supposed to sound like a village band scraping away at Leifs’s thick fifths and heavy melodies, or possibly it just sounds like Eric scratching his head. Anyway I made it and you can listen to it if you want.