Dream Sequence (1986) by Andrew Imbrie
for flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, and percussion
West Coast premiere

Dream Sequence was commissioned by Mr. Frank Taplin and was completed on June 17, 1986. The title Dream Sequence occurred to me some time after I had finished writing the piece. It refers to any passage in a play or movie where a dream is portrayed. Such a scene typically comprises a series of events whose succession appears illogical, yet serve to illustrate in some way a protagonist's true state of mind. The title seemed to fit the piece because there is no reasonable narrative explanation for why a particular bird-call, fragment of Oriental folk-melody, or other musical detail found its way in. These things were needed; they were pert of the dream.

The first movement opens rather feverishly with a long phrase characterized by surges, unstable texture, and a quick dissolution. This is followed by a halting viola melody, supported intermittently by a low, fitful accompaniment. The development of this idea is interrupted, but at the same time answered, by the flute, soon joined by oboe and clarinet; whereupon all instruments participate in a sustained drive toward the goal of the first section. This consists of an insistent disjunct passage for the piano in its highest register, accompanied by various commentaries, and eventually leads to a climax and subsequent collapse. The middle part of the movement strongly contrasts with all this: it is ushered in by muted strings, and characterized by a reflective English horn melody. Eventually the piano joins the strings and the bass clarinet recalls the English horn melody. Following this, elements derived from the first section reappear in new guises and positions. At the same time these disparate elements are more tightly woven together by means of an overarching melodic line. The climax of this line coincides with the return of the high disjunct music (previously for piano), now played by the piccolo. A coda brings the movement to a close.

The second movement is really a scherzo, but this description ought to be qualified in the following way. A traditional scherzo moves in a fast triple time, and the listener is consistently aware of its dancelike quality. In this movement the quick triple meter is always present, but although sometimes in the foreground it is merely latent, owing to the tendency of the music to broaden into a kind of evanescent lyricism, or else to re divide the measure into fours or fives, etc., rather than into three. The scherzo quality therefore derives as much from shifts of metrical focus as from an evocation of the dance. The "persona" behind the scherzo adopts changing disguises.

The last movement is adagio, begun and ended by a long oboe melody.

— A. I.    

[from program for October 17, 2022 concert]