"Unfinished Earth" - Douglas Knehans

Douglas Knehans
Unfinished Earth Cover
Unfinished Earth Back Cover


Slow movement from Unfinished Earth
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KNEHANS Tempest Flute Concerto Promo
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These two works represent different views of how the external metaphors of wind and earth may be shaped to
reflect the more intimate internal worlds of the human heart and mind.

Tempest, my flute concerto, was shaped by the thought of wind—such an essential element to the flute and flute
playing—and how, in the natural world, this courses across the planet in different ways from benign to hostile.
The three movements reflect different wind patterns found around the globe and served as a departure point
for a three-movement work cast in a quasi-classical frame of fast-slow-fast structure. Each movement engages
a message, I hope, beyond mere tone painting, to reflect deeper aspects of the human condition, the human
experience, thought, reflection, psychology and emotion.

Unfinished Earth is a longer and deeper work, again cast in three movements, and delving into the constant
degradation and reformation of earth and sea. Just as the earth slowly changes and evolves, we ourselves are
constantly evolving through the deepening of our life experience, the processing of life’s joys and tragedies,
and the inner passage of our turmoils and triumphs. Tempering, the first movement, is about the formation
of earth and the molten rock that rises from the subterranean earthen smelter to become land. For me, this
is a movement about becoming, and through such becoming, firming our sense of self, just as earth does as
it becomes land. Eternal Ocean, the second movement, evokes the shifting currents of deep ocean, again as a
metaphor for the unfocussed and at times even conflicting currents of the inner emotional worlds of the human
experience. The final movement, Tearing Drift, is again a work with multivalent meanings: referring to the ripping
apart or fractures in the earth’s surface, as might happen in an earthquake, perhaps, and also referring to the
alternative meaning of the first word of the title not as being torn but as crying. This notion of an earth cry or
deep subterranean swell of grief was a central image and intent of this movement. The strident wind and brass
microtonal peals and screams against the strong percussive thrust of this movement were intended to reflect
such an earth cry—or even the Munchian silent scream of isolated man.

—Douglas Knehans