FOR OBOE, BASS CLARINET, HORN, PERCUSSION, HARP, VIOLIN, CELLO, AND BASS
Dedicated to Anthony Korf and Parnassus
Premiere: December 7, 1978; Carnegie Recital Hall, New York; Parnassus
The New Yorker - Andrew Porter
"Tobias Picker's Octet, dedicated to the ensemble Parnassus and its director, Anthony Korf, had its first performance, in Carnegie Recital Hall, [on December 7, 1978]. The nine-minute work happily confirmed the favorable impression made by Picker's Rhapsody, for violin and piano, at a Group for Contemporary Music concert the month before. The forces of the Octet are oboe, bass clarinet, and horn, violin, cello, and double-bass, harp and vibraphone/marimba; and they are skillfully and imaginatively handled."
"The start of the piece suggests that of Tristan in the way motif steals upon motif to build into chords, but instead of Wagner's clinging semitones there is a gentle, open whole-tone flow -- or, rather, a series of flows so directed that, while a cross-section through any point of the opening measures may reveal a common triad, one hears a web of lines and timbres instead of a chord progression."
"The scoring is smooth. Voice laps over or enters upon voice; coincidence on crossing points lends color and emphasis to the moments of unison; the texture is active but not dense or lumpy. A whole-tone melody implicit in the opening measures, later drawn out in a single thread by the horn, is never far away, but the moods and the motion of the music change freely, as if in a set of improvisations spun from that basic theme. The ending comes suddenly, perhaps too suddenly -- but better that than a welcome outstayed."
"I find Picker's music hard to describe. I can't point to influences. Sometimes I think he may have been listening to Varèse timbres. Carter may have encouraged his feeling for inner rhythmic vitality. (Picker's music "keeps going" in an organic way, generating its own energy, not relying on motor or moto-perpetuo pulses.) The harmony seems to have been arrived at by intuition. My intuition tells me that he is one of the most gifted, individual, and unschematic of our young composers.”