A Man Who Suddnely Fell Over (2017) for Two Violins and Two Violas

Performed by Sarah-Hadley Yakir; violin I, Chandler Yu; violin II, Julian Tello Jr.; viola I, Corey Worley; viola II in Fontainebleau, France

Program note:

A man who suddenly fell over was written for the Ecoles d’Art Américaines de Fontainebleau. This piece was inspired through the interpretation of Michael Andrews’ painting on display at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Juxtaposed by the complete nature of a fall to Andrews’ instantaneous interpretation of it, I was immediately intrigued. This single frame incident seems to birth an outrageous and somewhat ludicrous reaction from the man, allowing a stroke of lighthearted drollness. However, this frame holds a certain gloom, with the man evidently masquerading the undeniable fear with a grin rather than what one would expect, a grimace. This uncontrollable mishap is combatted with a strange, unusual concealment of trueness. Metaphorically, Andrews was going through a period of uncertainty; this loss of balance and almost ironic situation of this man represented him.

I wanted to magnify and elongate the swift motion of falling into its microscopic fibers. To capture this meticulous kineticism, I used small note values with exaggerated dynamic contours. The urgency of the fall is preserved, with interruptions and rapid shifts of characters between sections. Although the fall’s outcome is never revealed in Andrews’ piece, the temptation of closure gave me the momentum to created the final movement of the gesture, completing the fall.

© 2014 by Nicky Sohn