Year of composition
“Essentiae Vitae” was commissioned by the University of Arizona woodwind quintet to be premiered in Tucson on April 20th, 2000 at the mentioned university.
I composed this piece during the Winter of 2000 with the idea of writing a piece with a lot of contrast and color for a combination of instruments I have always been fond of. I think the woodwind quintet offers to the composer a great amount of timbrical combinations as well as a great deal of technical and instrumental possibilities.
“Essentiae vitae” is about the four basic principles of life: “Land, Air, Water, and Fire”. They are presented separately with individual thematic material, which later is going to be blended to reach “Life” in an integrative process.
Land is a serene vision of the “ground surface” we all live in. It starts motionless, majestically featuring French horn and Clarinet soliloquies. It progressively grows in intensity towards the first “tutti” until the Oboe interrupts the climax to descend towards the initial ambiance.
Air is a colorful movement that imitates the air sounds. This fast movement features several special effects such as frulatti, key clicks, blowing air into the tube, bending tones, etc. in an airy world of subtle sounds. The Flute and Clarinet are particularly challenged in this delicate and chamber-like movement.
In Water the flute player takes the piccolo to create high register short staccato notes, which in combination with the high notes of the oboe, give the impression of a watery scherzo. The French horn plays muted throughout the movement and the bassoon is mainly written in tenor clef.
Fire, as its title suggests, is a furious movement in 6/8, very rhythmic and energetic, full of hemiolas and changing rhythms. It is a loud intense and brilliant movement where the French horn and Bassoon predominate.
The last movement, Life, starts in a similar way as the first movement, using its theme as an introduction. A new melody is introduced very softly by the Oboe under a wavy harmonic accompaniment (from air) played by the Flute and Clarinet. The music grows bigger mixing motives from the previous four movements to restate the Oboe melody, this time played by the French horn to build an apotheosic conclusion reaching a powerful C major chord at the end.