In the film Gangs of New York
, made in 2002, Martin Scorsese describes the constant confrontations between the natives and the Irish immigrants in the New York of the 1860s. The scene of the bloody fights is the area in central lower Manhattan, the “Five Points”. These finger-shaped street intersections form a true melting pot of the different cultures that settled there.
In my clarinet quintet The Five Points, the idea is no longer confrontations carried out with weapons, but rather the formal design in the field of tension between contrast and analogy of the five movements of the piece – each with its own unmistakable character – here, too, a melting pot of different kinds of musical shapes. The entire work can be conceived as a promenade between the five corners of the “Five Points”, where the different gangs had their habitats.
I have structured the lengths of the individual movements in accordance with the series introduced by Leonardo Fibonacci in 1202, in which each following number results from the addition of the two numbers preceding it. In this way, the movements are arranged in such a way that, beginning with the first and shortest movement (55 seconds), the durations increase continually with the exception of the longest movement (377 seconds), which is the fourth instead of the last movement. Through the liberties that I have taken in the realisation of this scheme, one is returned, so to speak, from the ideal realm of numbers into more mundane reality (the terrain of the “Five Points”).
In addition, some listeners will be able to hear hidden echoes of the Clarinet Quintet Op. 115 of Johannes Brahms of 1891 in a few places during the last three movements. It was a pleasure to “bend” my musical language here and there so that the Brahms allusions (never quoted literally) flow into the work organically and are dissolved again as an homage to the great composer.
Finally, after the birth of my first grandson Basil in August 2012, I put in a “happy” spot based on the melodic fragment B-flat, A and E-flat at the place where I was writing at that time (in the third movement).