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Night the Obscure

for oboe quintet

//  Duration: 5'
//  Date:  2014
//  Instrumentation: oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, bass
// For: Ensemble39
//  Premiere: 22 October 2014, Philadelphia

Premiered live, 22 October 2014

University of Pennsylvania


With Ensemble39:
Alexandra von der Embse, oboe
Stanislav Chernyshev, clarinet
Abigail Fayette, violin
Yoshihiko Nakano, viola
Nathaniel West, bass

Night the Obscure is the sonic result of a couple fascinations of mine: sensual poetry and the use of cyclicity in artworks that otherwise unfold linearly in time. I was first inspired by this selection from Wallace Stevens’ magnificent 1916 poem “Six Significant Landscapes”:


The night is of the color
Of a woman's arm:
Night, the female,
Fragrant and supple,
Conceals herself.
A pool shines,
Like a bracelet
Shaken in a dance.

With this imagery in mind, I conceived a long, supple, sinuous melody for oboe that is repeated throughout the piece, at times echoed by the clarinet and violin, and always presented in a new harmonic context every time it repeats, as if ripples on a pool are constantly shaking our perception of the night’s light.




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