Finnissy, Michael

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Oxford University Press




Flexible Ensemble


flexible ensemble, pf, electronic gadgets


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About the work

‘Molly-House’ is an ‘assemblage’, having no particular order for its set of freely juxtaposed parts. Some of these parts are soloistic, and conventionally notated (19 arias derived from 4 operas by Handel). Others are ensembles (trios and quartets) with various degrees of pitch specificity, or indeterminate ‘solos’. Some (containing lists of numbers) are for electronic gadgets (hairdriers, mixers, drills, vacuum-cleaners, vibrators etc.). The proposal is for a potential ‘community’ in which any smallish number of players (with differing levels of expertise) could creatively co-exist: a house with an unpredictable number of co-operative occupants. The first arias to be completed – on a winter’s holiday in Norfolk – were dedicated to Molly Money (on her 80th birthday), later ones were written for Andrew Potter, Ellie Blackshaw and Suzanne Aspden – Suzanne’s expertise had provoked the Handelian content from the start, and eventually also suggested the title. A molly-house was an 18th century house of pleasure and fantasy, inverting (altering, substituting, transforming) the external world, and making (almost) anything possible. Mollies – then as now – thrived on being adaptable.

First Performance: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 23.11.04, CoMA


CoMA commission, Open Score 2004: ‘The Four Temperaments’