Torso is a piece that raises many questions. First of all it is based on material from Charles Ives „the unanswered question“, which I used to come up with the main gestural material of the piece. However it is not necessarily a piece about the Ives example, but rather about the same musical question. The piece makes use of an alternative temporal notation, that goes away from a euclidian space towards a space which is more fluid without and underlying tempo and beat structure.
The temporal exposition of the piece is derived from the physical constitution of each player. Those conditions can be linked to each player, so that a web of relationships start to occur with an overarching hierarchy, as well as chaotic states, where now relationships occur.
The composition of the piece is not chaotic at all, even quite the opposite. It is highly structured, where structural thoughts create dissonance between the notational ideal of the music and real sounding synthesis of the problems that occur.
I see Torso as incidental music, that has a unique dramaturgy that is never centered in the piece but rather something, that almost sounds accidental. This was important to me to start working with quite dramatic material without falling back into a neo-romantic language.
– Philipp Henkel
Year of composition
quatuor de saxophones