Faye-Ellen Silverman


Year: 1999

Duration (in minutes): 9'39;

Difficulty: High (professional)

Category: small chamber ensembles - 2 to 4 players, solo instrument with piano, solo string with piano

Instruments: any string, cello, piano

Publisher: Subito Music Corporation

According to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, an obsession was originally the act of an evil spirit in possessing or ruling a person. Thus, as the title suggests, “Obsessions” deals with material that is repeated several times before wearing itself out in varied ways. In this work the obsessions have two aspects – motives which repeat several times, often with slight variants, before disappearing; and the presence of the interval of a second (usually minor, sometimes major, occasionally major followed by minor). Throughout the work, variations of color (including contrasting ranges of both piano and cello) and texture are used.
The work begins with a crashing introduction. Three contrasting sections with material derived from minor seconds (fast -slow - fast in speed) follow. Each of these sections is interrupted by a variant of the original material stated at the original speed. The first interruption dissolves its anger, while the second maintains its violence throughout. The three contrasting sections also follow different paths. The first fast section becomes increasingly agitated until extreme repetition takes over. The slow section – highly melodic – remains consistent throughout. Unlike the first section, which builds to a violent climax, the angry variation of the opening idea must physically intervene. The final fast section features pizzicato (plucked) playing in the cello. Arco (bowed) playing gradually takes over again, leading to an obsessive cello “cadenza”. This cadenza is also based on the semitone, this time stated as a major seventh. This continues until, once again the obsessions – with their accompanying tensions – are finally resolved.

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