Henning's Headquarters

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Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 09, 2022, 05:06:36 AMThe wonderful artist in my life, Maria Bablyak has a new product line. Please share widely:
https://fine-art-im.myshopify.com/collections/all
I'm having some trouble navigating the website (beautiful work by the way!); sometimes I can click on a work (like the desert one at top left), but when I try and scroll down to look at one (bottom right), the screen goes blank.  Don't know if it's me and old Mac or the website (or both??) ?

PD
Pohjolas Daughter

Karl Henning

Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on December 09, 2022, 06:18:12 AMI'm having some trouble navigating the website (beautiful work by the way!); sometimes I can click on a work (like the desert one at top left), but when I try and scroll down to look at one (bottom right), the screen goes blank.  Don't know if it's me and old Mac or the website (or both??) ?

PD
I'm off to PT. Will have a look afterwards. Thanks for having a look!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Karl Henning

Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Karl Henning

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on October 08, 2022, 07:22:05 AMIncidentally, I finally have the recording of The Young Lady Holding a Phone in Her Teeth ... Will soon hoist it up onto YouTube.
Well, not all that soon, I suppose.


In 2015 the local double wind quintet Kammerwerke commissioned a piece from me. This was, incidentally, in spite of what we may call the musical disinclinations of their music director, whose most modern musical likes hover around Vaughan Williams. Some members of the Board were supporters of my work and paved the way. One stipulation, though, was that I would conduct, which of course I was perfectly happy to do. The première was at First Parish in Bedford in November 2016. Today is the first time I've really sat down to listen to the piece since the performance (which was quite well received.) I find that I am enormously proud of the piece.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

relm1

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 18, 2023, 11:53:38 AMWell, not all that soon, I suppose.


In 2015 the local double wind quintet Kammerwerke commissioned a piece from me. This was, incidentally, in spite of what we may call the musical disinclinations of their music director, whose most modern musical likes hover around Vaughan Williams. Some members of the Board were supporters of my work and paved the way. One stipulation, though, was that I would conduct, which of course I was perfectly happy to do. The première was at First Parish in Bedford in November 2016. Today is the first time I've really sat down to listen to the piece since the performance (which was quite well received.) I find that I am enormously proud of the piece.

I think it has immediacy and keeps the listener engaged.  It is always clear who is in the foreground and who is accompanying them.  I kind of hear it as a Greek play where there is a narrator but Greek choir too who comments on the events. 

Karl Henning

Thanks so much for your kind listening!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Karl Henning

An accidental benefit to having just enjoyed Chris's superb piece is, remembering that SoundCloud is an option for sharing music:
A MIDI export of my Op. 175, Symphony № 3, « In memoriam Louis Andriessen »

https://soundcloud.com/karl-henning-756715731/symphony-no-3-in-memoriam-louis-andriessen?si=0b4abac58a2545d2bf44ec195ede0add&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Karl Henning

Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

relm1

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 26, 2023, 10:00:28 AMRevisiting the Viola Sonata with pleasure:
https://soundcloud.com/karlhenning-1/sets/sonata-for-viola-piano-2010?si=e5e13463447c489292255683be42d2ba&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing
It sounds so polished.  The performers really understood the music. Since this was composed 12 or so years ago, do you feel the need to revise it? 

Karl Henning

Quote from: relm1 on January 26, 2023, 04:13:26 PMIt sounds so polished.  The performers really understood the music. Since this was composed 12 or so years ago, do you feel the need to revise it? 
No, I'm happy with the piece as is. I forget now, what his user ID was, but the violist was a GMG'er at the time. So the piece originated, essentially, from a PM on this forum.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

relm1

#8750
I think it's gorgeous.  I love how it engaged and transports the listener on a journey.  Beautifully performed.  Wow, that's so crazy that this was performed by a fellow GMG member.  How was it performed and recorded?  Did you meet them?

Karl Henning

Quote from: relm1 on January 26, 2023, 04:21:56 PMI think it's gorgeous.  I love how it engaged and transports the listener on a journey.  Beautifully performed. 

Many thanks!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Karl Henning

The composer with whom I studied at the College of Wooster, Jack Gallagher, posted this comment on Facebook, so he won't mind my sharing it here:
A granitic, formidably ambitious three-movement work of resolute gravitas, performed with dedication and unwavering commitment. Congratulations, tutti!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Karl Henning

Believe it or not (I almost don't believe it, myself) I've made a start on the Op. 169 № 8 organ solo piece, sorrow and love flow mingled down, which (if completed) will be for Jack Russell, my erstwhile theory professor at the College of Wooster. What happened? It chanced that the source hymn I had selected for this piece was one of the hymns in this morning's service, and this afternoon, my friend Peter treated me to a concert by the ancient music ensemble El Dorado in the Somerville Museum.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Rons_talking

Quote from: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 18, 2023, 11:53:38 AMWell, not all that soon, I suppose.


In 2015 the local double wind quintet Kammerwerke commissioned a piece from me. This was, incidentally, in spite of what we may call the musical disinclinations of their music director, whose most modern musical likes hover around Vaughan Williams. Some members of the Board were supporters of my work and paved the way. One stipulation, though, was that I would conduct, which of course I was perfectly happy to do. The première was at First Parish in Bedford in November 2016. Today is the first time I've really sat down to listen to the piece since the performance (which was quite well received.) I find that I am enormously proud of the piece.

This is really good. I love the quiet energy.

Karl Henning

I was almost going to post this on the Unimportant News thread, but that's not really apt. It's simply a personal note. Boston's public transportation system, the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) has a phone line for travelers to add funds to their Charlie Card. Every now and then, I speak with the same agent, who is always gracious and appreciative of my demeanor (which I do not claim as any great virtue.) By now we know one another by name and we're like neighbors, which is certainly true in some sense. She told me today that she's always glad to hear when I am the caller, because it always improves her mood. It costs me zero effort to be as simply pleasant as I am, and especially on days like today, the reciprocation is warmly appreciated. 
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Cato

I happened to see that Karl's Viola Sonata was mentioned here recently.

This might be of interest:

Quote from: Cato on March 20, 2014, 03:17:00 PMHere it is: my analysis of Karl's Viola Sonata:

In the first movement, you hear the shadow of Alban Berg in the Viola: a mysterious yearning arises from a kind of struggling non-tonal tonality.  Note that even in the first bar, in the 5:4 figure of 16ths, one hears a kind of tonality in the broken D# (= Eb) Bb (= A#) Eb (= D#) chord, and then again in bar 2, note the broken up D major scale in the 5:4 figure, nearly emphasized by the accent mark on the D after the 16th rest.  Bar 3 has the little march figure which again has an aroma of traditional tonality (F minor, starting with the C-F figure at the end of bar 2), and tells us that maybe the Viola has been wanting to be in F minor from the start, but cannot decide.  The seeming chaos in the piano, with its B/A# and D/C# in the bass, and similarly wide-spaced dissonances in the treble, would apparently not be involved, but listen carefully to the odd E major in the piano in bars 3 and 4, which the Viola picks up in its partially contrary figure at the beginning of bar 4.

The chord at the end of bar 4, with its open fifths in the piano and the Viola's minor second G#/A stubbornly refusing to accept the engagement ring from either suitor, will become very important motivically, as it is paralleled in bars 28-31, and in bars 203-205, repeated nearly verbatim in bar 41, and paralleled again in the conclusion. The minor second in the Viola can of course be heard as a variation on the major 7ths in the piano's bass at the beginning.  This idea is reinforced in bar 7 in the piano, where the bass ascends from Bb to Bb to G#, while the treble and the Viola hold an A.

Lest ye think that the little minor second is just a moment's hesitation, let me send you to bar 14, where for a moment both instruments play G#, but then the piano plays F#2/G# on the last beat, and to the Meno mosso section at bar 45, where things are seemingly in accord, with a unison on B in both instruments, but immediately we get a disagreement (Bb in the piano/A# in the Viola), followed by a C/Db and then in bar 46 we hear that G#/A, resolved into a unison to be sure, but then note the minor seconds in bars 49 and 50 (nicely played in the performance).  This is one of the more comically poignant, or poignantly comic parts of the work.

The Piu mosso section at bar 59 shows a variation on the 5:4 motif from the opening melody.  The motif is now legalized with a time signature of its own (5/16), but does return in the piano for a moment in bar 64.  Of interest rhythmically and motivically are bars 66-72: the music struggles upward through major and minor seconds for a while.  In bar 69 the 5:4 figure in the piano sets the stage for an erratic ascent from B to C, with a minor ninth crescendo in bar 72.

The delicious Slow (but with life) part (bars 83-108) shows variations on the previous motifs (bar 86 develops the 5:4 figure, and the double open fifths in bar 87),  and I like how the wide leaps in the piano presage the sudden drop in the Viola in bars 97-98.  Octaves abound, but not for long, as the music fragments to a kind of pointillism in bars 109-132.  The open-fifths-vs.-minor-second debate is heard in the piano in bar 122, just to make sure you are paying attention, and that 5:4 figure now appears as a 5:6 in the base.

And then my favorite part: the completely schizoid Piu mosso ancora! (Bars 133-176) The section continues to play with items already established, e.g. hear the bass part of the piano continue the minor/major 2nd/7th/9th patterns, while the treble plays around with the motifs introduced back in bar 95ff. and 106-107.  Listen to how they contrast with the melodic line in the Viola, with trills (136-137), emphatically accented 16ths, the 5:4 and new 6:4 figures, while the piano obediently avoids such rhythmically complexities, allowing only some syncopations.  And I must remark upon how well the premiere performance handled this section!

In bars 177 the music develops the earlier Piu mosso (bars 59-82) and drives toward a climax where a variation of the opening is proclaimed beginning at bar 201.  During this drive, note again the presence of those minor/major 2nd/7th/9th patterns: bars 189 and 194-195 are especially impressive here, the latter two bars show a minor second expanding to a third and then a fourth, leading to the open fifths in the treble in the next two bars.

As mentioned earlier, those Beethovenian chords from bar 4 return in bars 203-205.  We then hear a brilliant, condensed, and varied recapitulation of the most important parts of the entire movement (e.g. listen to the piano in bars 212-214 and in the bass only to 218 and compare it to bars 95-102, while above one hears a near apotheosis of the 5:4 figure interspersed with continual variations on it: check out e.g. bar 219 where the Viola plays an eighth-note triplet with a duplet, as well as the bass part in the piano in bars 220-221.  Bar 221 is particularly fascinating with the way motivic and rhythmic elements coalesce in the piano, before our Beethovenian chords put an end to this serious yet playful and highly expressive movement! 

Suspension Bridge: Karl has pointed out two of the building blocks of this bridge movement.  The first is a scale (see e.g. bar 85 in the piano) spanning two octaves, allowing both dissonance and a pentatonic warmth.  The second block is a "periodic rhythmic pattern which needs 73 measures of 3/2 to play out."  The listener certainly does not need to recognize either of these, but the composer sets such limits for himself as guideposts toward continual inspiration.

Ever since hearing the opening to Mahler's Tenth Symphony (on the violas!), and the long chant-like phrases in the Tenth of Shostakovich, I am a sucker for long, lonely, unaccompanied themes!  So you can predict that the unadorned 20-bar Viola theme at the start of Suspension Bridge, the Second Movement of the Viola Sonata, is something which would appeal to me.  The theme almost has a hymn-like character, and is in G with only a few, but very delicious, chromatic wanderings (e.g. the Ab-Abb in bar 5, carrying forward the minor-second motif from the previous movement). 

The piano offers an ascent from a "G" abyss in bar 20, with notes often rising in 6ths (e.g. bars 20-33) until the end of the section, where some leaps of a 7th occur.  The 6ths can be heard as inversions of the 3rds in the Viola theme (e.g. from the half-note in bar 32 to 38), providing thematic-harmonic unity in a section where the long, Adagio-Largo line needs stabilizing.  The section ends with an open fifth D-A to which A an octave lower and then a deep B octave are added.  We then hear our 5:4 friend (in assorted guises) from the First Movement, while the piano revisits (again beneath various masks) the 7th and 9th chords (e.g. bars 50-54).  The piano's music recalls bars 83-94 from the First Movement.  Of interest are the insistent duplets and triplets in the Viola, which link the music rhythmically to similar insistent figures found throughout the First Movement (bars 42-43, 56, 72, and the final bar). 

Of course, these figures are also presaging similar things in the last movement, which makes one wonder if the first two movements are not elaborately inventive variations on elements from the Tango in Boston.  As befits a middle movement named Suspension Bridge the music connects itself most impressively to both of the outer movements. 
 
To return: the piano attempts to raise the bridge with the help of the 5:4 figure going up eccentric scales, but things fall apart by bar 64, where the piano reminds us that the minor-second motif has not disappeared!  And speaking of insistent figures, there is a nearly constant F/E 7th in the bass between bars 64 and 78, while our friends (the major and minor seconds in 66-67 and 75-76, the 5:4 figure) frolic back and forth, ending with the return of a variation in Eb minor of the Viola's opening statement.

Then in bar 80, starting on G in the bass (the key of the Viola's opening), the piano starts charging upward, while the Viola also rises up a D major-minor scale played in octaves.  The section leads to a Maestoso with a series of (mostly) hexachords in the piano, wherein one picks up open and diminished fifths, 7ths, and 9ths, (e.g. bar 95 C/G/B/A#/C#/G#). These point backward (e.g. bars 83-94 in Fair Warning) and forward (e.g. bars 105-113 in the Finale).

Bars 101-120 present an enigmatic dialogue with the Viola speaking pizzicatoly and the piano playing 5 8th notes against 4 (cf. the 5:4 motif), with an emphasis on our motivic intervals of 2nds, 5ths, 7ths, and 9ths.  And a cadenza for the Viola – starting on G – parallels both the heaven-storming of the piano in bars 80-92 and the preceding dialogue: note how the louder triplets form one voice contrasting with a second voice of soft 16ths. 

Punctuated by the piano (fortissimo) with a hexachord (Db/Ab/C in the bass, Eb/F/Cb in the treble), the cadenza continues now with large chords on the Viola, harkening back to the piano's Maestoso section: check bar 142-143, where the minor second (C#/D) "resolves" into a F#/C/E 7th chord.  The chords also presage a similar section in the Finale (e.g. bars 105-114 in the Tango in Boston), which even occasionally uses the same chordal sequences (cf. the two chords at the beginning of bar 147 with bars 105-106 in the Tango in Boston.  A repeated chord (D/B/F#/E) ends the cadenza, and brings us to another dialogue between the two instruments, even more antiphonal than before, with an exotic array of rhythmic figures repeating the same notes, as if a Martian Morse code were being transmitted.  In fact, however, one tastes here some of the "tango-ish" aspects of the last movement. 

From this exotic soundscape we plunge downward on the piano – starting on (a high) G – while the 5:4 motif is heard in the Viola, and is soon echoed in the piano.  After the ff climax, the Viola plays a Largo version of the opening Adagio, again in a kind of key of G, with which the piano quietly and sweetly (dolce) disagrees in the final bar with a D#/C# 7th in the bass, which we easily understand, since a 7th has been heard in the bass before (on F/E in bars 64-78).  We have gone full circle, but discover that circle is actually a Möbius strip, so that we are no longer back at the beginning but somewhere else...maybe we are in Boston and ready to tango! 


For the Tango in Boston, the subtitle Dances With Shades is perhaps instructive: one can assume the reference is not to guys in sunglasses, but to ghosts and the pirouettes they might be making.  (Of course, maybe the ghosts are wearing sunglasses!)  In either case, one hears a rather mysterious and ghostly opening with our melodic and harmonic friends from earlier: the assorted seconds/sevenths/ninths and assorted fourths and fifths.  In the very first bar, an Ab in the bass of the piano is answered by a C/F# and then a D/C#, and soon a G in the Viola joins that bass Ab.  This opening section reminds one of an earlier sequence in Fair Warning (cf. bars 82-90).  And the melodic motif at 24-27 in the piano's treble evokes the spirit of Erwartung.  After dancing up a quasi E major scale, the Viola sings on C# and D# while the piano provides a tango beat with a chord of B/C/F leading to A#/D/F#.  Of interest is the bass rocking back and forth on the fourth-fifth pattern of A-E-E-A, providing a temporary "E" background and a yearning in the Viola line with that C#-D# theme.

At bar 33, the piano begins a bass ground in C-Db-Ab (or A)-F, while the Viola again struggles up that quasi E major scale, finally arriving at the theme from bars 19-22 now played in octaves.  Deliciously evocative is the end of the section (bar 47) where the Db octave on the Viola fades away with a chord of Db/G/C in the piano.  This continues the minor-second element (Db/C) heard in the first two movements.  Also, as part of a final movement's summation of previous material, the Viola's music here might be heard as a variational reminiscence of bars 55-62 from the second movement.

And speaking of bass grounds, in the next section (bars 49-69) listen to the "Scott Joplin Channels Schoenberg c. 1915" in the piano's left hand, where our 5:4 figure dances "with intensity" with (or against) the Viola's dance played mainly in thirds. and using 5 8th notes tangoing on top of the piano's 5:4 notes, thereby creating a giddy contrast for the ear.  There is also an occasional 7:8 figure with 16ths in the piano: it begins on a low G# and rumbles upward to F (bar 54), then on D to B (bars 58 and 66) before reaching G# again at the end of bar 69.  (See Karl's previous comment on the multi-octave scale in the opening comments about Suspension Bridge.)  Our destination is not G#, but (of course) the A, a minor ninth higher (bar 70).  But the Viola has been busy during all this too!  The 5-patterning is also heard in the descending figure in the Viola (beginning at the treble clef bars 66-67) and later in its ascending figures (bars 68-69).  And the 7-pattern is heard in a 7-note descending motif (bars 62-63, 65, 67-68).

The unison on A (bars 70-71) is quickly disturbed by a Bb and G#, which is right in character!  We then return nearly to the beginning of Fair Warning with a startling variation on the Viola theme from that movement (cf. bars 71-80 with Fair Warning's bars 7-18).  The piano continues its 5:4 motif interspersed with groups of 7 notes (e.g. the  bass in bars 73-74, 77, 79 vs. the treble in bar 80).  Suddenly at bar 81we enter an A minor/major area, with a simple pizzicato theme, which strikes my ear as evocative of an ancient Greek melody.  Then after the piano intones a mysterious 9th chord (A/F/B), we hear a transposition of some of the opening bars (24-30) with some variations: rather than the rising pizzicato of bars 33-41, we now have a very lugubrious theme (from the last beat of bar 89 to 104): if it is not quite a danse macabre, it is Herrmannesque, where octaves are just as disconcerting as 2nds, 7ths, or 9ths.  This leads to a Largamente where the Viola returns to its cadenza chords of Suspension Bridge, but this time the piano adds its voice (cf. bars 137-142 of Suspension Bridge with bars 105-114). 

The Adagietto (bars 115-132) takes us back to Fair Warning's Meno mosso (bars 45-58) section: if it is not quite a variation, it is certainly a reconfiguration of that earlier section.  Two massive hexachords chords conclude the section, leading to a Vivo finale which the piano insists must be in C, while the Viola plays rhythmic elements heard earlier which emphasize a strident B minor (e.g. the D/B in bars 133-135 along with the C#-B/F# figures throughout the finale). 

A purely personal and no doubt idiosyncratic reaction to the final page: I was reminded of the thunderous finale to Rachmaninov's First Symphony.  Perhaps it was the repetition of the motifs in the bass of the piano, but the connection was immediate.

If the essay has helped to illuminate some things for a listener, then its purpose has been fulfilled.  Ultimately, Karl Henning's Sonata for Viola and Piano Opus 102 sings for itself and will illuminate the listener with its tour through an unknown soulscape.   
 



 

"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Karl Henning

Quote from: Cato on February 08, 2023, 02:01:14 PM(Of course, maybe the ghosts are wearing sunglasses!)
I've always loved this, especially. Many thanks, again!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Cato

Quote from: Karl Tirebiter Henning on February 08, 2023, 02:17:38 PMI've always loved this, especially. Many thanks, again!


It is an honor!  I know that my analytical style is idiosyncratic, but so far, nobody has found it to be an awry exercise.  8)
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

Karl Henning

Quote from: Cato on February 08, 2023, 05:12:45 PMIt is an honor!  I know that my analytical style is idiosyncratic, but so far, nobody has found it to be an awry exercise.  8)
There is a lot of insight in your analysis. It pointed out to me some things of which I was not full-frontally aware.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot