The Octet, completed in 1980, was composed with the hope of having it conducted by my mentor, Jacques-Louis Monod. The premiere and this recording took place in February of 1987 with Mr. Monod conducting the Guild of Composers Chamber Ensemble. Each of the three movements in this composition has a predominant tempo: I--slow, II--fast, and III--moderate; similarly, each has its own theme, texture, and developmental structure. The first movement, marked cantabile, begins with a stately chorale-like presentation of the theme and while maintaining a melody plus accompaniment texture gradually builds in activity and volume to a forceful ending.
Counterpoint is the reigning texture of the second movement, which begins with a statement of the nine note theme by the first cello. The theme becomes more and more erratic as it is broken into smaller and smaller segments and tossed from instrument to instrument. A little past the halfway point the process reverses itself; the theme reassembles and calms down to lead to a quiet, relaxed ending.
The third movement bursts into life with a homophonic statement of its theme and immediately becomes a raucous chase of paired instruments. Various alliances of pairs test the theme by canonic imitation, fragmentation, stretto, augmentation, diminution, even retrograde until everyone comes to a triple forte consensus at the end.