“Andreia Pinto-Correia calls her new orchestral work Timaeus, titled after Plato’s dialog, a “concerto for orchestra,” creating dialogs and oppositions among the ensemble’s sections and solo roles (the harp is particularly prominent) as a way of generating energy and contrast. The piece also shifts in focus between amorphous, static moments, such as the opening, to mosaics of clearly defined gesture—that is, between two perspectives on the articulation of time, which is the subject of “Timaeus” as well as of the Elliott Carter lecture the composer references in her own notes on her piece…”
-Robert Kirzinger, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Director of Program Publications
Timaeus, written by Plato (c. 427-347 BCE) is considered to be the first manifesto of teleology. This late and complex dialogue gives an account of the creation of the cosmos, and of a craftsman god who imposes order on a pre-existing chaos. The explanation is supported by Plato’s mathematical and geometric formulas.
My composition Timaeus is divided into three main movements (The Work of Reason, The Work of Necessity, The Work of Reason and Necessity), bracketed by an introduction and a coda. A concerto for orchestra, it is about twenty minutes in duration and follows the main sections of Plato’s text. The elements fire, earth, water, and air are each represented by a distinct group of soloists that features a particular harmonic and timbral profile. The musical narrative is built upon the interactions between these instrumental groups; they are in constant flux, mirroring the complex narrative of the text. The work was inspired by Elliott Carter’s Time Lecture (1965/94) and consequently was written in memory of the acclaimed composer whom I met during my Tanglewood Fellowship in 2009.
Fire is the most mobile and angular element, and is thus represented by sharp gestures and a large range of instrumental registers. It is realized by the piano, harp, bassoons, celli, and percussion instruments including marimba, temple blocks, and wood blocks.
Earth is the most inert of the elements and it tends to conserve its shape, which translates into massive blocks of chords realized by the bassoons, trombones, tuba, basses and large metal and skin percussion instruments.
Water is easily transformed by other elements and can be divided into two subgroups: the liquid (small uneven cells) and liquefiable (large, more even and “heavier” cells). It is realized by metallic percussion instruments (such as glockenspiel, vibraphone, and triangles) as well as oboes, trumpets, horns, and violas.
Air is the second most angular group after Fire, and it has the capacity to permeate every other element. It is realized by the violins, flutes, and clarinets, as well as some smaller percussion instruments such as tambourine, maracas, and cymbals.