Diary of a Journey (2003) by Richard Festinger
for clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, and percussion

The journey depicted in Diary of a Journey is an imaginary one, or, more accurately, a journey of the imagination. Of course all creative works comprehend a journey of the imagination, but the approach to mining the imagination may differ vastly. This particular journey is not the outcome of formalistic calculations, nor is it the outcome of any overtly or covertly political or utopian vision, nor of any guiding necessity to fuse, or demolish, barriers between, disparate musical eras or traditions. Based on the conviction that musical thought is inherently untranslatable to other modalities, the music chronicles a journey guided exclusively by ear and instinct in a search for an itinerary (to extend the metaphor) that leads through intuitive connections to distant, unexpected, preternatural spaces.

In the beginning the performers are asked to imbue the music with a magical quality of anticipation. As the music begins to grow, the piano suddenly bursts out in a brief extroverted display, the ensemble swells, and a sudden, dramatic transition introduces a long clarinet solo, set against a darkly luminous accompaniment of low string chords and bowed vibraphone. The reappearance of the piano incites the ensemble to turbulence, finally giving way to gentle reminiscences of earlier music, evocations that become more elaborate and expansive, culminating in an intense counterpoint between two duos, violin and viola against cello and clarinet, and setting the stage for the final toccata-like game of tag between the vibraphone and piano.

— R. F.    

[from program for February 11, 2008 concert]