Touché – Clarinet Duet with Fixed Media by Christopher Hopkins
I’ve had the opportunity to perform Christopher Hopkins duet for two clarinets and fixed media a few times recently and have really come to love the piece. Hopkins describes the piece this way:
Touché is a single movement duo-concertante in a toccata style. Two clarinet soloists are united in a musical contest, between themselves and together in opposition to an ensemble of synthetic clarinets automated from computer software. The toccata paradigm emphasizes the immediacy of touch upon the instruments, which traditionally serves to allow idioms of virtuosic performance to take the lead in determining musical form. Touché also takes the idea of musical touch to a yet more detailed level, that of articulation, the specific qualities of attack upon and the subsequent shaping of the musical tones. Here, therefore, the emphasis is on how the tones themselves are touched. The synthetic clarinets in particular emphasize these articulations, being made artificially sharp and separated, or more rarely, artificially dulled. There are also important shaping gestures, such as sudden swellings of tone with pointed conclusions, that suggest the rhythmic interchange of swordplay, notably fencing—en-garde.
Here’s a video of Angela Opell Adkins and me playing it at the Ohio University New Music Concert.