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Opus Contra Naturam

By Brian Ferneyhough

Solo piano
Composed by Brian Ferneyhough (1943-). Modern. Performing score. Composed 2000; First Performance: October 2000, Flanders Festival. Ian Pace. Duration 13 minutes. Edition Peters #EP7606. Published by Edition Peters (PE.EP7606).

Item Number: PE.EP7606

Scene 4 of Shadowtime Commissioned by the Flanders Festival Flemish-Brabant (Leuven, Belgium), Ian Pace and Henrietta Brougham.

  • Ratings + Reviews

  • 1

    James Elkins
    Williamstown, MA
    Difficulty Level:
  • 2012-01-28 00:00:00.0 Interesting; impossible to play.

    There’s a lot of talk about the virtual impossibility of performing Ferneyhough’s scores; the usual strategy is to parse them into individual beats, learning them beat by beat, bar by bar, like a new language. The first measure of this piece, for example, is 7/16. Those 7...

    beats are bracketed, and the bracket is labeled 11:7 -- that is, eleven beats in the time of seven. Three of those 11 are bracketed with the label 5:3, meaning 5 beats fit in where three had. And within the 5:3, there are two divisions, a group labeled 5:3 and one labeled 7:4; and within the first of those, there is a further division 5:3. So the second sixteenth note of the piece is actually in a ratio of (5/3) / (5/3) / (5/3) / (11/7) in relation to the original beat. This is clearly a strategy made possible by computer software, which makes these kinds of divisions fun and easy. It is easier to understand, and to learn, if it's thought of as a product of the software.

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