Jeremy Gill’s music is particularly concerned with sound qualities, to the extent that he’ll move his performers to different parts of the hall during the course of a work, as was the case in the Philadelphia premiere of his 2009 work Soglie, Serenate, Sfere, for oboe and two percussionists…this shift also altered the music’s emotional shape—pulling the sound away, creating a distance of not just space but time, as Gill evoked ancient, even primeval impulses. I’ve heard Gill make similar broadly cultural and ritualistic allusions in earlier works. It seems to be a signature for this promising young composer.
– Broad Street Review, 1 March 2011
Soglie, Serenate, Sfere is a fantasy on the aria “Care soglie” from Alarico (1687) by Agostino Steffani, the first work in Western music to explicitly call for the oboe in its orchestration. “Soglie” (“thresholds”), the first movement of this three-movement work, and “Sfere” (“spheres”), the last, act as bookends to the much longer middle movement, “Serenate” (“songs”), thus recalling the da capo structure of the aria.
Soglie, Serenate, Sfere is also an exploration of the oboeʼs pre-history, and reflects on, in “Serenate,” its past rolls in religious rituals (as the Arabic zurna, paired with cymbals) and warfare (again as the zurna, and the shawm in medieval Europe, paired with drums), as well as its bucolic associations (paired with the tambourine). In “Soglie” and “Sfere,” the evocation is again of the outdoors, but in these movements the wide open spaces of the outdoors are of primary interest: the oboe begins at the back of the hall and ends at the front, while the percussion (playing wood blocks and claves, then chimes) begin at the front and end at the back. Heightening this effect is the imitation of bird calls in the oboe and insect sounds in the wood blocks and claves.