Composer: George Crumb
Title: Dream Sequence (Images II)
Number of Players: 1 Violinist, 1 Cellist, 2 offstage glass-harmonica players, 1 percussionist
- 5 Japanese temple bowls, 4 crotales (Gb6, F6, C6, B5), sleighbells, 1 maraca, 2 suspended cymbals
Approx. length: 15 minutes
Programme notes in CD booklet, from “Jecklin Edition 705”
Dream Sequence is scored for violin, cello, piano, and percussion plus an off-stage “glass harmonica” that requires two players. The percussion instruments consist of five Japanese temple bells, four crotales, sleighbells, one maraca, two suspended cymbals, and a Thai wooden buffalo bell [for the pianist]. The pianist [also] has three tuned crystal goblets and the offstage players have four.
The “glass harmonica” chord, while quiet (“quasi subliminal!”), is present, nevertheless, throughout the entire work. The makeup of this chord — C-sharp, E, A, D — is a first inversion major triad with an added fourth above.
The meditative nature of Dream Sequence is apparent in the first words of the score: “Poised, timeless, breathing, as an afternoon in late summer.” To otherwise describe this score, all of which is contained on two pages, would be fruitless.
Those listening without a score in hand should be advised that the piano in most of its midrange has sheets of paper lying on the strings, causing what the composer describes as “delicate vibrations”. The percussionist provides pulsating bell sounds and eerie drone effects (pppp sempre); these delicate shadings of color magically complement the sounds of the other instruments. However, it is the violin and cello that eventually dominate Dream Sequence, playing concertino to the ripieno of the piano, percussion and glass harmonica. Playing brief, antiphonal, ever-varied phrases, always closely responding to one another, they create the rich, colorful embroidery of the sound tapestry that constitutes the work.
Dream Sequence evokes in its psychological effect something akin to an actual dream. Fugitive, wispy images seem to drift in and out of the consciousness, assuming subtly varied shapes with each recurrence. At one, and only one moment in the “sequence” of images does the sleeper seem roused to semi-wakefulness (announced by sudden, sharp forte passages in the piano); the music then relapses gradually to deep somnolence with the concluding “cicada-drone” music.
Annotated by David Luidens