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David Hamilton: Leukos - AUDIOEmbedded audio
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The marking, in July 1999, of the 30th anniversary of the first moon landing finally provided a focus for my thoughts about this piece. Although each movement has a programmatic title they are intended only in a very general sense and exist mainly as a starting point for my own conception of the musical material. The idea of ‘light’ became a unifying idea in the music.
The derivation of the name ‘Moon’ relates to words involving time or measurement, and lead directly to the English ‘month’. The root of the word is ‘me-‘ and can be found in several other languages: Greek mene, Latin mensis and German mond. The Dictionary of Astronomical Terms continues:
..there is also a ‘lunar’ group, typically represented by words for ‘Moon’ such as Latin _luna and French lune (and Russian luna). The root here, now not much more than the initial letter ‘l-‘, is related to ‘light’ and so to Latin lux, ‘light’, Greek leukos, Russian luch and so on. The Moon, therefore, can be regarded as either a ‘measurer’ or an ‘illuminator’._
The first movement suggests a bleak, barren and deserted landscape. Musically the most complex movement, the melodic and harmonic material are derived from an 8-note pattern of pitches. The central section resolves into more tonally centered music and uses a special technique whereby the strings play ‘out of phase’ with each other. This movement also sidelines the woodwind completely, allowing the darker colours of the brass to dominate.
The second movement is a fast and furious scherzo. Picking up from the final chord of the first movement, the movement unfolds in a series of climaxes and cascades of sound. There’s even a passing hint of Holst’s ‘winged messenger”, particularly in the scoring.
The final movement gradually unfolds in one long crescendo. Here, the harmonic basis is much more tonal although elements of the first movement’s material return at key points. There’s even a touch of ‘Hollywood’ in the final climax to the work!
Written for the Auckland Philharmonia during 1999 while Composer-in-Residence with the orchestra
I. The Sea of Tranquility
II. Celestial fireworks
28 Sep 2000: Performed by Aucland Philharmonia cond. Rodolfo Fischer; Auckland Town Hall