This might be the most stressful thing to listen to. Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 but played on the piano, and now with a drumline. It’s not those facts that make it stressful. It was stressful before I added the drumline. This particular section of the original quartet feels like a hunt or a battle that ends dramatically. To me, this is more satisfying than something like Pines of Rome which builds and builds tension but never has a satisfying ending. Pines of Rome seems to run out of energy instead of a giant explosion to fully let go of the pent-up energy that builds for such a long time. That problem of final gratification from what’s been created over several minutes doesn’t exist, for me, for Quartet No. 8.
The two challenges that made this take forever were the tempo and not letting the drumline become a drumset – just keeping time for the duration of the piano’s tension. THEN it was a matter of changing the timbre, at a minimum, even if the piano revisits a theme. I use them, but as a player, I never enjoy seeing repeat symbols. Surely there’s something better we can do than just play the same thing?! I think there is a nice balance between the drumline supporting what’s happening and then it is the main focus or the cause for what’s happening. Of course, if this were ever played live the last concern is that the percussion section would fade into the back of the orchestra.