Roadside Picnic

Instrumentation: piano duo

Duration: 21′

Program note:

Roadside Picnic is a work that evokes a sense of vacillation between an illusory stasis and a temporal nature of inevitable change. The piece does this by interweaving different cellular blocks with certain limiting features of dynamic, texture, tempo, and development. It embeds isolated “imaginary quotations” constructed of underdeveloped, stunted tonal structures within a more abstract, stark framework. The title of the work is in reference to a short story by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky upon which the film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky is based. Both the story and the film explore the uncertainties of the nature of found, alien artefacts and the dangers inherent in exploring the beautiful yet treacherous territories within which the artefacts may be found. Furthermore, these works investigate human interplay, history, and memory which taints the purity of natural dispositions due, in part, to the excess of goal-oriented agendas.

A picnic. Picture a forest, a country road, a meadow. A car drives off the country road into the meadow, a group of young people get out of the car carrying bottles, baskets of food, transistor radios, and cameras. They light Fires, pitch tents, turn on the music. In the morning they leave. The animals, birds, and insects that watched in horror through the long night creep out from their hiding places. And what do they see? Gas and oil spilled on the grass. Old spark plugs and old filters strewn around. Rags, burnt-out bulbs, and a monkey wrench left behind. Oil slicks on the pond. And of course, the usual mess–apple cores, candy wrappers, charred remains of the campfire, cans, bottles, somebody’s handkerchief, somebody’s penknife, torn newspapers, coins, faded Bowers picked in another
meadow.

Roadside Picnic (English translation) by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

performance by Laura Barger and Oksana Ezhokina

audio

https://philipschuessler.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/roadsidepicnictenri.mp3
Performance: May 12th, 2006, New York, NY

SCORE (EXCERPT) – download full score below

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Roadside Picnic – Score

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