New Roads, Old Destinations II
for oboe [or bassoon] and piano (1997)
duration: 7’
GRT • 038 / 039

CD available
New Roads, Old Destinations
Nick Fitter (bassoon), Tony Lais (piano)


score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
This piece is inspired by M. C. Escher’s famous 1960 lithograph, Ascending and Descending, showing stairs which descend impossibly back to an upper starting point. This illusion can also be found in music. One of the most famous examples is the chorus, Non Morir Seneca, from Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, where chromatically rising lines are dovetailed to give the impression that the music is constantly getting higher and higher, when in fact it is merely treading a metaphoric waterwheel. More recently, Wim Mertens’ solo piano piece Alef, from the recording Jérémiades, combines a descending sequence with gradual phrase augmentation to induce a sense of uncertainty on the part of the listener as to whether the music has returned to the ‘top’ or whether it has progressed elsewhere.

Ambiguity is also at the heart of this piece. In
New Roads, Old Destinations II, each time the piano phrases descend further (new roads) and yet still arrive back at the same cadential motive (old destinations). In between the ‘new roads’ are refrains based on the same sequential motive but these never expand beyond 4 bars and also wind up at ‘old destinations’. The bassoon, by contrast, gradually ‘ascends’ from the bottom note, Bb, up into the higher register of the instrument, creating an inverse symmetry with the piano.

”Pro Arte artistic director, Jeffrey Crellin, partnered Almonte in Greenbaum's New roads, old destinations II, a brief exercise in opposing pitch strata during which the oboe part is well stretched in terms of range, breath and some sound–production novelties.”
Clive O’Connell, The Age, September 2005