Incandescence is an energetic percussion ensemble piece featuring the vibraphone as a soloist. It blends elements from Baroque, Metal, and Jazz music to bring life to the concept of the work. The initial bowed passage symbolizes the beginning of a flame emitting only a faint glow. As the piece develops the themes increase in intensity as the fire grows to its climax.
Canadian composer Jérémie Carrier exemplifies the current trend toward a renaissance of the improviser, composer and performer. Using the vibraphone as the solo instrument, “Incandescence” melds together elements of electronic music, jazz and Baroque styles to produce a flashy feature and overall exciting piece for percussion ensemble.
Although the piece functions around a solo vibraphonist, each of the five parts has featured moments and contributes to the overall aesthetic, making this more percussion ensemble than concerto for vibraphone. The solo vibraphone part is full of common challenges on the instrument, from bowing to mallet dampening and even an optional improvisation. The other two keyboard parts call for two-mallet playing, often either outlining chords in fast triplet rhythms or carrying a melody against the vibraphone. The drumset lays down a foundational rock-shuffle groove or half-time beat throughout most of the piece, with some indications on ensemble figures to hit in unison. Carrier is often non-descriptive in his notations, leaving a large amount of musical interpretation up to the performers.
Musicaly speaking, “Incandescence” follow the thematic nature of its title, as a single flame emits a faint glow that can grow to a climactic blaze. Beginning with two players bowing on a single vibraphone, the marimba enters with the faster pace, helping transition into the solo vibraphone entrance. From there, Carrier diverts into a lighter, detached approach reminiscent of the Baroque era, which allows the drumset to enter using the snare drum at first to bridge into the shuffle. Throughout the piece after the initial bowed introduction, the music shifts through these various styles, maintaining a constant feeling offorward momentum until the very end.
Perfect for an undergraduate or graduate recital, “Incandescence” will keep the audience engaged and demonstrate fluidity and musicality in the ensemble.
-Matthew Geiger, Percussive Notes, May 2019