Chamber Music: mixed sextet
Vortex was composed in May 1995, and was first performed by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by William Intriligator. It is a short, energetic piece that begins with a burst of energy. A mysterious passage ensues, punctuated by occasional outbursts, and builds gradually until the opening intensity is regained. At that point, the opening outburst is juxtaposed with two contrasting ideas–a disjunct triplet motive and a restless, hovering motive–in rapid succession. The opening outburst returns to close off the section, leading into a dreamlike passage that features the strings in triple-octaves, accompanied by the marimba and piano. As this intensifies, the cello takes the lead in its lowest octave, ushering in a return of the opening outburst. This subsides into the triplet idea, which becomes an ostinato in the piano. From here the intensity builds to the end of the piece, with all of the main ideas returning in varied form. The concluding peroration is the final embodiment of the opening outburst.