Polarities (1995) by Ursula Mamlok
for flute, violin, cello, and piano

Polarities (1995) is emblematic of several of the most striking characteristics of Mamlok's style. The first movement employs delicate weaving, fluttering textures, which are contrasted with fff piano chords and passages of rhythmic stasis. The brief second movement, originally composed as a memorial tribute to Samuel Starr, a friend of the Alaria Chamber Ensemble, dispenses with the piano entirely. With its stately, almost circular motion around a few musical gestures, it serves as a bridge between the frenetic activity of the first and last movements. The finale begins with neoclassically tinged motifs and textures that soon blossom into an intricate contrapuntal web. This wave-like buildup to complexity is the major device by which Mamlok creates structural contrast between the many short episodes within the overall arch structure of the movement. Polarities was commissioned and premiered by the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society. A recording of this work is available on CRI disc number 806.

— U. M.    

[from program for November 8, 2000 concert]