1980/81 HETEROSTASE for flute, bass clarinet and piano

HETEROSTASE (1980/81) was written for flute, bass clarinet and piano. The piece was a turning point, and the result of an enormous amount of analysis I had carried out on both early and contemporary music. In particular, my study of Debussy’s prelude Ondine and Xenakis’ Nomos Alpha (see Interface) led to the exploration of a new compositional playing field in which musical and technical considerations truly seemed to merge. The commission for Heterostase came from the phenomenal bass-clarinet player Harry Sparnaay at a time when I was abandoning musical life in frustration. His encouragement and belief in my musical potential was the spring board for a whole new approach to composition. His trio (Het Trio) gave a great number of performances at the start of its long and successful career path in the course of which it built up a whole new repertoire.

Heterostase was set up as a nine-dimensional ‘space’. The aim was not only to achieve total control over the creative process, but also to master the concept of virtuosity: technical and musical acrobatics, entirely to my client’s taste and that of his new trio of virtuosos. The fact that the complicated machinery of Heterostase led to such playful music was the inspiration for several of my later compositions. An introduction to Heterostase can be found in an article of the same name in the another issue of Interface.

That is not to say that composition was smooth sailing from this point onwards. Problems kept cropping up, notably in Vectorial (1983) and Wu Li (1986), in which I attempted to model the principles developed in Heterostase for new purposes. At times I felt as though I was banging my head against a familiar wall: the classic danger of a successful formula that is still only half assimilated.

Heterostase can be played in conjunction with Gravity’s Dance, Khepera (or Athena Keramitis) and Aura to form the cycle ECLIPSE.