Pintures, concerto for percussion with large chamber ensemble, is based on the “Working Notes” by painter Joan Miró (1893- 1993) and in particular on his Montroig and Barcelona notebooks from 1941-45. Extended percussion techniques – using various mallets, sticks, and brushes – are employed to evoke the physicality of Miró’s revolutionary painting methods. This chamber concerto is divided into four movements:
I. Quick drawing with a brush and dribbling gray oil paint
II. Linear motif in sienna or a more muted color
III. Green Ground
IV. Final drawing in charcoal
The work is dedicated to George Nickson and ensembleNEWSRQ with friendship and admiration.
Additional Note by Andreia Pinto Correia:
Pintures, Concerto for Percussion with Large Ensemble, takes as its point of departure some essential philosophies that guided acclaimed Catalan painter Joan Miró (1893-1983) throughout his life. Central to his work were reflections on stillness and great spaces in which a finite and motionless object suggests movement without end. The painter called this idea “motionless movement” and he associated it with the concept of “eloquence of silence”, both thoughts derived from 16th-century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross. Miró translated the idea of “motionless movement” into his canvases by using forms that resembled sparks flying out of the frame. This essential concept is present throughout my compositional process and is realized in the role of the percussion soloist, who continuously challenges and expands the frame of the composition.
As in Miró’s work, contrasting elements coexist in this concerto: for instance, the existence of small forms in which microscopic gestures are in continuous dialogue with larger, self-contained forms. Thus, the same gestures appear in all the movements but are subjected to different ratios and surrounded by distinct instrumental and timbral textures. A microscopic gesture may delineate the overall structure of a subsequent movement, or a large section may contract into a microscopic gesture elsewhere in the work.
The dichotomy between sky (constellations, stars, birds) and earth (darkness, insects, crawling creatures) – a constant throughout Miró’s works – is also present in the concerto’s timbral explorations. The earth – with its low brass and winds, tam tams, timpani, gongs, low piano clusters and low strings – coexists with the sky – represented by string harmonics, celesta, high winds, and xylophone. Sky and earth mutate throughout the work and are in constant conversation with each other.
Pintures consists of four movements that follow a specific work sequence during Miró’s Montroig period in the 1940’s. The titles of the four movements mirror the steps Miró followed in creating a painting. Major works from this period include Morning Star, Woman dreaming of escape, and Woman and birds at sunrise.
The concerto starts with a prelude inspired by my observation of videos of Joan Miró while painting. Here, soloist George Nickson mimics the painter’s strokes and brush techniques. The ensemble responds to the soloist as if it were a canvas bursting with colors.
My special thank you to George Nickson and Samantha Bennett and to this extraordinary ensemble and conductor and for their commitment to perform and commission new music.