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Stephen Goss : Dialogues from Invisible Cities for Violin and Guitar : Doberman – Yppan

Stephen Goss

Doberman – Yppan: Two scores 8 Pages each (no separate parts)

When you see a piece by Stephen Goss, you know that you are not going to see or hear something that has been done before and this latest work is certainly no exception.

This roughly 8 minute piece consists of 3 Dialogues which are taken from his concerto Invisible Cities for Violin Guitar Strings and Percussion (2017), which itself is based upon Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel of the same name which has no plot or dialogue but rather 55 prose – poem descriptions of cities framed by dialogues between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. Each of the three dialogues in the piece has a detailed story behind its composition that you get when you buy the piece.

In this piece the players can readily improvise with the music and should not feel that the score is cast in stone. Dialogue 1 is only 4 bars and one page in length and like much of this man’s music is unbarred, has no key signature, or time signature, consists of free- rhythmed arpeggios interspersed with long notes, and also includes bends up and pre- bends ( where you bend up beforehand, to let it go to the actual note thereafter.) The violin part has a massive 8 notes to play (!) and it is all over with after 90 seconds.

The second Dialogue has the instruction that the two players should take no notice of one another and they are to act like they are playing different pieces, which to be honest, they do appear to be doing! This one includes tremolo parts, campanella, and some barred moments where time signatures are in evidence. In the space of the 3 minutes 15 seconds that it lasts, the tempo marking changes 10 times.

The final Dialogue is another one – pager consisting entirely of very long notes and equally long pauses in between and so its 23 bars of music lasts two and a quarter minutes, ending on a long high B on the violin, and moreover in this last dialogue , nowhere do the two players actually play together.

I honestly find it very hard to understand music such as this. It seems to almost be made up as it goes along, especially after the Preface instruction to take no notice of the score if you don’t want to. Sorry but I find this an utter waste of time.

Chris Dumigan

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