Michel van der Aa / Works / 

Just Before

Menu button

Newsletter


Dark Light

Just Before was composed shortly after the ‘Preposition Trilogy’, and is audibly related to it, although it is in principle an independent work. The close chords and woodpecker-like ostinati are the notable features it shares with the preceding work. As in all of Van der Aa’s compositions, the material for the soundtrack was derived from the instrument itself. If one listens with eyes closed it might appear as if the pianist is tampering with the instrument’s interior, but in reality her activities remain confined to the keyboard itself.

Just Before is like a rubber band one stretches out and allows to spring back in different directions. This stretching-out takes the form of a slowly rising riff that opens the piece. The soundtrack then produces the first recoil. This is followed by a quiet, descending, almost diatonic motive, offsetting the agitated, dissonant opening, an echo of which lingers on in the soundtrack. The theme blurs, getting stuck in repetitive notes, and then regains momentum, gradually rising in pitch. It thus initiates a new tension curve, this time in combination with a burst of electronic sounds. Once the elastic band is drawn taut again, the music settles into a compulsive woodpecker pattern with clusters marking the very limits of the register. Once again there is an abrupt return to calm, and again the lyrical theme appears, but it almost immediately runs amok, and another hammered ostinato takes it to a third climax. The piece concludes with low, humming chords. The rubber band has lost its elasticity, the piano has reached its highest notes and the pianist allows the soundtrack to take over.
— Frits van der Waa

Instrumentation

for piano and soundtrack
2002

Piano
Soundtrack (from CD)

Details

Duration

12′

First performance

8 October 2000
Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham, United Kingdom

Commissioned by

Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst

Publisher

Boosey & Hawkes

Performances

Last performance


10 November 2016

Just Before (Chinese premiere)

Prodromos Symeonidis, piano

7.30pm, He Luting Concert Hall, Shanghai, China

All performances of Just Before

Listen

Tomoko Mukayama, piano