Second Thoughts (1977) [solo flute]
— This charming work represents the true rara avis
in Helps' output - a solo work not composed for the piano (nor even for another keyboard instrument as in
The Altered Landscape
The title offers a pun on the pervasive interval of a second (major or minor) favored throughout the piece. (Helps would later dream of writing a satiric piece plagiarizing the twelve-tone organization of famous pieces like Berg's Lyric Suite
- which he would call “Second-Hand Rows”!)Second Thoughts
presents a challenge to a harmonically oriented composer like Helps; his insistence on intervallic formulae recalls Varèse's Density 21.5
with a lighter touch.
Duration: 3 minutes.
Yes, Helps could live without the piano as he proves in Second Thoughts for flute.
He never composed at the keyboard, but often returned to the ivories to "check" sonorities.
Two CDs including Second Thoughts