Song for Emma, was composed for Emma Gregan, an Australian horn player and composer, in gratitude for the piece Rose-Coloured Glasses that she wrote for me.
The piece starts with a mysterious introduction based on large stopped glissandi, an effect seldom used by horn players. Minor 2nd glissandi are very common Major 2nd, minor and major 3rd smooth glissandi are possibile on the horn but they depend on the range. So fingerings are indicated in order to help on the task. The piece gets gradually faster and arrives at a slow section featuring the lyrical character of the horn, which starts with a melody on the low range, that slowly raises up to the high range.
The melody suffers an unexpected twist and becomes a swinged dance on 5/4 followed by a written improvisation for the horn. This section (between letter E and G) can be transformed into a real improvisation that can be repeated according to the will of the performers. Next, there is a written improvisation for the piano, that can also be transformed into a live improvisation. The chosen key looks tricky on fingerings, but, actually if some alternative fingerings are used it will become very idiomatic. For example if some of the g#’s are played as a fifth overtone (B?2), the e?’ on bar 77 played also as 5th overtone (B?2•3), or the d?’’s at letter D played as 9th overtone (B? 2•3). Finally, on bars 137 & 140 a good option is playing the 1st F? with (B?1•2) and the 2nd using (B?2).