I like how the word “charade” has both positive and negative connotations. Although the word always refers to some kind of pretense, that pretense can be light and fun (like the party game), or dismayingly transparent. This Charade—for flute, violin, cello, and continuo—explores both of these conflicting connotations. Over the course of the piece, the performers and their instruments put on a variety of disguises, both timbral and stylistic. Sometimes these charades are all in good fun, while other times they take on a more sinister air.
The structure of Charade is inspired by that of the Baroque dance suite. These suites feature a collection of short movements inspired by popular dance forms of the day. While a Baroque dance suite progresses discretely and logically from dance to dance, the music in Charade has other ideas. With a mind of its own, the music breaks out of the composer’s straightforward plan, sometimes obsessing over a single sound, or frantically jumping between opposite ideas, or crashing through of the form’s stately confines entirely to find something more rank and lowdown. Throughout this constant swirl of musical disguises, the question becomes which sounds are true and honest, and which are the mere charades.
If you find out which ones are which, please let me know.
Charade (an unruly dance suite) was commissioned by The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. It was premiered by members of the ensemble—Kimberly Reighley, flute; Stephen Tavani, violin; Glenn Fischbach, cello; and Mark Rimple, lute—at the Annenberg Center for the Arts on November 1st, 2017.