CRISTINA SPINEI
Cart 0

CLarinet COncerto

2017

Clarinet and String Orchestra

Duration: 12'

Clarinet Concerto was commissioned and premiered by clarinetist Emily Tyndall and Cincinnati Soundbox. Written for string orchestra and clarinet, this piece is complete in two contrasting movements. The first movement is slow and lyrical; I really wanted to take advantage of Emily's gorgeous tone. There are a lot of divisi strings to give the clarinet accompaniment a light, translucent texture. The clarinet's melodies are the focal point of this movement.

The second movement is a fast, rhythmic one that uses an ostinato as the main theme. It begins with a jaunty theme in the bass while the violins sneak in a little later with contrasting long notes. The momentum builds and then drops away to reveal a clarinet cadenza.  

 

FORMAS

2016

Chamber Orchestra

Duration: 13'

Formas is a work inspired by Mariachi music. It is scored for twelve musicians and divided into two movements, Bolero and Son Jalisciense. I composed Formas backwards, starting with the second movement. I usually remember the moment when the first idea for a new piece of music is solidified. With Formas I finally stumbled upon the second movement chords after a long night of trying many harmonic combinations. The chord pattern is in the rhythm of a son jalisciense, characterized by a changing 6/8 and 3/4 pulse. It's this rhythmic alteration that drives the second movement forward. I've taken some artistic liberty with the rhythm of the son jalisciense by shortening it in places and adding beats to it in others. The first movement is a straight bolero. It focuses on melody and color to contrast the rhythmic drive of the son jalisciense. It is meant to evoke the languid melodies of the mariachi boleros. I wanted to capture an element of dance in both movements and retain the effervescent spirit of mariachi in the entire piece.

 

STRUT!

2015

Orchestra (2015) Wind Ensemble (2016)

Duration: 6'

Strut! is a short, fast-paced work inspired by the sounds and patterns of walking. The title of the work came to me before the music. I read an article about composers who were in the habit of going on walks while thinking about their music. Beethoven, Mahler, Britten, Tchaikovsky, and Satie among others took daily strolls as part of their compositional process. Some of my favorite musical ideas have come to me when I’m out traipsing through town, always in a hurry and always in loud heels. The rhythm of my gait has worked its way into my music on a few occasions, and I thought it would be fun to incorporate that sound and the cadence of many people walking into a brisk piece for orchestra. There are three versions of Strut!, full orchestra, chamber orchestra, and wind ensemble.

 
 

SYNCHED

2011

String Orchestra

Duration: 12'

The first version of Synched was mostly aleatoric; musicians were sent music in real-time via wi-fi to personal laptops that displayed their music. The tempo, dynamics, and articulation of their music was altered while the musicians performed. Because of this controlled improvisation the piece would be different at every performance.

I decided to take elements from the octet and notate it in a fixed version for string orchestra. Synched is structured on loops—four or eight bar phrases that repeat. Each loop is a building block that is never altered but instead is used in different combinations. Each instrument has its own unique set of loops that occasionally overlap. By limiting the musical material I am able to play with rhythm, syncopation, register, and stereophonic effects throughout the piece.

 

SUPERSTITIONS

2017 - 2018

Duration: 22'

Violin, Violoncello, Piano, and Electric Bass

Superstitions was commissioned by the Nashville Ballet. It is a piece in four movements that makes use of acoustic instruments and electronics. This is my favorite work to date, and I have made many arrangements for duos and trios. 

 

BOOTLEG SUGAR LIPS

2012

String Quartet

Duration: 15'12"

String quartet Bootleg Sugar Lips was commissioned by choreographer Kathleen Dyer as part of the evening length dance work, A Complex Sum. I have a long-standing collaboration with Kathleen; we've created over ten dances together. In one of the beginning rehearsals of this latest work she had already starting setting new choreography to John Adams' string septet Shaker Loops. She had wanted the same gesture of the quivering strings in Adams' septet to be in my yet-to-be-composed piece. Sometimes Kathleen creates a dance phrase first and I'll try to match it musically. For this dance I had to come up with music that reflected the energy in Adams' work. Jokingly, I entitled the first sketches of the quartet "Bootleg Shaker Loops." Through a misunderstanding by the dancers the name morphed into "Bootleg Sugar Lips" and the absurdity of it was catchy enough for a permanent title. 

 

PERSEPCTIVES

2010

String Quartet

Duration: 7'

Perspectives, for string quartet, unfolds slowly with the viola playing a descending two note motive. Pizzicato cello notes punctuate the ends of the viola’s part, as if responding to a musical question. I structured this piece to be a conversation between all four instruments. When the second violin enters, it presents a repetitive gesture that sounds as though it’s completing the viola’s musical thought. The first violin’s entrance is a sustained, quiet note that almost sneaks into the conversation. From there the first violin plays a low, repetitive eighth note melody that becomes the catalyst for the rest of Perspectives. The eighth notes turn into sixteenth notes and the melody is transformed into a fast, swirling gesture punctuated by accents in the low strings. Gradually the music unwinds and resembles the calm of the opening.

 

FROM

2010

String Quartet

Duration: 6'45''

From opens with a halting recitative between the viola and cello. The viola’s first eight notes represent a sighing gesture that forms the main motive of the piece. There is space between each utterance of the motive until it gradually builds momentum with all of the players joining in. It isn’t often that I use silence in my music, but this piece called for a reflective tone. The mood of From remains somber throughout, with a few bright spots provided by a climbing melody in the first violin. It was commissioned by KDNY Dance.

 

SOME BREAKINg

2009

String Quartet

Duration: 16'28"

There are three distinct sections that make up Some Breaking, for string quartet. In the dance, a quartet finds itself lost in a forest of heartbreak where the magic of connection inspires the realization that some breaking is building. I wanted to represent that sense of desolation by a soaring, minor melody in the first violin. It is accompanied by mournful counter melodies in both the second violin and viola. The cello alternates between pizzicato notes and a legato descending line that echoes the music of the first violin. Section two of Some Breaking is almost all pizzicato. I wanted to create a pointillistic effect, so the melody is divided up between the players. The third section is contrastingly bright and rhythmically intricate. There are extended passages where the viola imitates the melodic lines of the cello before they eventually play the same music. The minor theme from section one is brought back at this new faster tempo representing the transformation that happens at the end of the dance.

 

strung ALONG

2008

String Quartet

Duration: 12'

Strung Along was commissioned by the New York Choreographic Institute. I was one of three composers chosen to collaborate with a choreographer on a new work for the New York City Ballet affiliated program. The piece is in three movements, each one developing a particular rhythm. The first movement opens with a funky cello solo. I drew inspiration from traditional American fiddle music which is most evident in this section. The second movement plays around with call-and-response between all four players. Each one takes a turn at having the melody while the accompaniment alternates between quick gestures and pizzicato. Movement three is my favorite. It opens will all four players in a unified rhythm that alternates between 6/8 and 3/4 time signatures. I composed Strung Along with an awareness to dance and the time that is needed for movement to unfold. Writing for dance has always been one of my favorite mediums, and I hope that joy of creation is apparent in this piece.

 

MAHLER REMIXED

2011

Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello 

Duration: 5'

For violin, viola, cello, and piano. The first thing that struck me about Mahler's Piano Quartet was the ambiguous opening rhythm. Listening to it for the first time without the score, I thought that the piece began in 6/8. The opening triplets sounded to me like a compound meter against which the left hand plays syncopated octaves. The polyrhythm created in the first few measures inspired me to use that kernel as a basis for a new piece. For the past few years I have been fascinated with rhythm and the different ways in which rhythm is perceived. Mahler's Piano Quartet was the perfect piece for me to explore the different relationships and interplay of those ideas. Mahler Remixed is formed by looping actual fragments from Mahler's quartet. Each time a loop appears, it is transformed through a changing rhythmic texture. Just like the original, Mahler Remixed opens with the solo piano. It continues in a sort of polyrhythmic conversation between the strings and piano. 

 

DOors Open

2017

Clarinet and Violoncello

Duration: 6'

Doors Open is a melodic duet for clarinet and cello, complete in one movement. It was commissioned and premiered by Access Contemporary Music, Milwaukee. The piece was inspired by the architecture of the Colby-Abbott Building, an opulent structure built in 1885. During the premiere of this piece, people were able to explore the building while the musicians played in the lobby.

 


niran

2017

Marimba

Duration: 4'30"

Niran was commissioned by percussionist Colleen Phelps for her debut album Animal Ambassadors. Colleen commissioned six different composers to write six new marimba pieces inspired by baby animals born in zoos. Niran is the clouded leopard born in the Nashville Zoo in 2017, so naturally I chose her as my animal ambassador.  This piece is filled with frolicking rhythms and jaunty syncopations.

 

 

FOR ELISABETH & CARl

2016

Violin and Piano

A duet for violin and piano, written for my dear friends Elisabeth and Carl. 

Duration: 4'30''


IF BEETHOVEN DANCED MERENGUe

2015

Violin, Violoncello, and Piano

Duration: 1'37''

Commissioned by Trio Céleste, If Beethoven Danced Merengue is an energetic, rhythmic variation on the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Trio in G Major. I retained the contours of the opening melody, changed it to minor, and transformed it into fast sixteenth note runs. The piano maintains a steady merengue influenced rhythm throughout most of the piece.

 

ANTIPHON FOR THE ANGELs

2015

Marimba and Voice

Duration: 5'

This piece for marimba and voice may either be performed by one musican or two. Antiphon for the Angels was commissioned by percussionist Colleen Phelps and is set to the text of Hildegard.

 

 

DeSDE LAS CENIZAs     

2013

Mezzo-soprano and Piano

Duration: 30"

Desde las cenizas (From the ashes) is a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano based on the art and poetry of Steve Clark. I composed this work after seeing Steve's exhibit The Girl is Blue and Refuses to sing, a collection of paintings that embeds fragments of his verse in each canvas. Equally as stunning as the paintings, Desde las cenizas was the perfect poetry to set for a song cycle. Latin rhythms and impressionistic sonorities are mixed together in all nine of the songs. Filled with dark, morose tones, I was drawn to Steve Clark's poetry for its inherent musicality. Desde las cenizas is described as "an apocalyptic love poem in the form of an interior monologue which unleashes different voices...Part lyric, part confessional, part manic rant, it depicts a confused and chaotic world at the point of extinction...When the world has ended, when there is nothing but ashes, what music will we hear?" 


MEET ME UNDER THE CLOCK 2013

Marimba and Violoncello

Duration: 7'40''

Meet Me Under The Clock, for cello and marimba, was commissioned by MuSE for their 2013 Sounds of Arts Festival. Each piece in the program was inspired by different locations in New York. My work represents the swirling energy and constant pulse of Grand Central Terminal. The marimba has a steady, driving beat under the cello's more lyrical lines. Meet Me Under the Clock alternates between being an observer of constant motion, and a participant in it. Dedicated to my sister, Michelle.