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Snatches of a Conversation was commissioned by Europäischer Musikmonat 2001 in Basel, Switzerland, and is the title work on Eötvös’ BMC album Snatches. “Snatches,” Eötvös wrote on his website, “is as freely composed as an improvisation. A friendly conversation in a coffeehouse, snatches of clever conversation, full of irony... and we trace our way between the tables... The waiter is a double-bell trumpet...?The soloists do not improvise in this piece.”

The double-bell trumpet Eötvös calls for in this work allows the soloist to switch quickly between different mutes. There is also a speaker, with a notated part in the manner of Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire, which the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group presented on a Green Umbrella program last month. “English words were chosen for the speaker, containing lots of sibilants,” Eötvös wrote in his performance instructions. “They are all to be whispered into the microphone, in somewhat voiced sounds. Most of the texts are nonsense, and the audience should hear the words as if somebody would play a hi-hat.”