Zugzwang! (performance scores) - BSN/HN
Composer: Dempster, Thomas
Publisher: Potenza Music
for bassoon and horn
by Thomas Dempster
This title comes with one performance score, and one score transposed for the horn, unbound.
In the widely-known and occasionally-respected game of chess, the Zugzwang is a forced move that a defending player has to move to in order to, you know, not die. It's a move a player has to make in order to avoid checkmate, but all things equal, the player would rather move something else. This is one of the endgame scenario categories in chess, knowing the end, of some small battle is nigh (with the implication, of course, that another shall surely follow) with the player forcing the Zugzwang basically holding the upper hand- though continued vigilance is surely a must. It's otherwise a chase to the end.
Writing duos is always a strange feat. No rule of three can be found, especially for voices when using wind instruments (well, usually). There is a constant dialogue- or should be. There is a repeated exchange- or should be. There is a repartee signifying and occupying the space of a chase- or should be. It's humorous, it's anxious, it's sarcastic, it's listening intently.
I envisioned the horn and bassoon as two figures engaged in conversation, engaged in a quick back and forth, with a chase to the finish, each instrument showing off its own arsenal while occasionally borrowing pawns or bishops from the other side of the board to make a point. At various turns, the speaking and moving becomes deliberate; at other turns, fleet and dexterous. I did not envision, though, a clear victor for the piece- though either horn or bassoon could easily make their own case either for dialogic attrition or monologic Pyrrhic victory.
This piece would not have moved or jumped or reached checkmate without the generosity and idealism of Sara Kenne. I thank her for making this work possible and for being a knight championing new music in Colorado and beyond.