Duet No.1: Chorale Pointing Downwards
is a work by contemporary composer Nico Muhly
for Viola and Cello. The piece received its premiere at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York in February 2004.
Muhly himself writes of the work that it's the first in a series of short string pieces that serve simultaneous purposes as harmonic and technical studies for both composer and performers. Duet No.1 is constructed around a cycle of fourteen chords repeated almost without cessation. This drone-like cycle is subject to a few rhythmic alterations, as well as two interruptions, keeping things dynamic and exciting. The middle of the piece becomes, in Muhly's words, "a sort of fervent perpetual-motion perseverance", in an attempt to combine harmonic beauty with what sounds like a musical exercise.