Published by
Project 440

Anthony Cheung

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Windswept Cypresses

Performed by the Composer's Ensemble; conducted by Mark Seto.

One of my favorite places to visit is the Point Lobos State Reserve along the Monterey Coast, some two hours south of San Francisco. Unique to this area are the famous Monterey Cypresses, with their sinewy and strained roots and branches. This music seeks to reflect on the rugged beauty of these windswept trees, which continue to be sculpted by wind yet are frozen in time. The work is also an indirect homage to two spiritually and aesthetically sympathetic composers, Debussy and Takemitsu. Their works for flute, viola, and harp—Debussy's Sonata and Takemitsu's And Then I Knew ‘Twas Wind—were constant sources of inspiration during the composition of this piece.

 Windswept Cypresses is offered as a belated wedding gift to my friends Ryan and Daniela Blum, with much affection.


Hyperbaton, or anastrophe, meaning transposition in Greek, is a rhetorical device that disrupts normal grammatical word order for dramatic emphasis. A few examples, modern and ancient: “shiznit” (tmesis/infixation, the splitting of a word by insertion of another); “I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me,” by Ovid (chiasmus, crossing of related clauses in an ABBA form); “And in the time perhaps it takes an arrow/To strike the bull’s-eye, fly, and leave the bow…,”

by Dante in Paradiso (hysteron proteron, the latter emphasized before the former).

In the first section of this piece, short fragmented arguments that form a coherent statement are reordered, manipulated, interrupted, and repeated, just as we do with spoken and written language to make a rhetorical point. Very clear, open intervals are violently challenged by dense, microtonal chordal fragments. Repetitions of ideas occur irregularly, while fixed rhythms contest with one another for prominence. Chopped time morphs into smooth time and vice versa. Out of the vigorous collision of these materials, a new section emerges, with lyrical strands in the form of a continually repeated series of chords, like a chaconne. And finally, an unabashedly grand and expressive melody unfolds, supported by an expansive, broadening progression of chords, which gives way to transparency and lightness.

Hyperbaton is dedicated to the musicians of the Ensemble Modern, with much gratitude.