Mετάλλαξις - Metallaxis is an ancient Greek word, meaning transmutation, the transformation of one thing into something different. In Modern Greek it is Μεταλλαγή – Metallagi, constructing by the prefix μετά (meta) and the noun αλλαγή (allagi); (1). In its English literal pronunciation (Metallaxis), and if one was to remove one L, it creates two new words: Metal Axis (2). Furthermore, In a Greek word play, if one was to substitute the prefix μετά - meta, with the noun μέταλλο - metal, then the newly derived word would literally mean “changing metal” (3). All three “interpretations” of μετάλλαξις - metallaxis served as the starting point of reference for the composition of this work, aiming to create equivalent musical metaphors. For example, the initial sketching of the piece was composed with the horn in mind, with most of its material and techniques then transformed and applied to the other instruments, thus transmogrifying both its role and that of the other instruments. (1). Furthermore, the horn, the only brass (or metal) instrument of the group frequently serves as the axis around which things evolve, and as the only “metal” instrument of the group, is the dividing line between flute and clarinet on one hand and oboe and bassoon on the other (2). Simultaneously, its role, sound and character is constantly changing, transmutating in an attempt to change its “profile”, its “metallic-ness” (3). The same principle is also applied to the clarinet and the flute, whereas the oboe and the bassoon’s “identities” remain more traditional. All material is used cyclically and it is presented either immediately after it is first heard or at a later stage of the work. This always occurs in a variation or developing variation form with distinct deviations in pitch, rhythmical ratios or orchestration. In fact, the overall form consists of a sequence of large scale developing variations of different densities and durations.
Finally, this work requires both individual virtuosity from each of the five performers, but also a collective virtuosity by the whole group. Consequently, it provides each performer with at least one solo passage, but it also provides technically challenging passages for the whole ensemble.