I am not sure how I missed this post for so long. I have a thing about fugues (although I really know sod all about them) and I rather like this one with its nervous and relentless atmosphere. It reminds me most of Hindemith. But I find the ending very weak and abrupt, I would prefer the fugue to build up some power (it's rather subdued throughout) and culminate in a grand fugal conclusion instead of simply dropping dead on its feet.
I am not convinced of the second movement, but the excerpt is too short to judge. The tune has some potential I'd say.
Since you ask if anybody's challenged to play it, I guess this is not played but rendered ? I might enjoy playing this but I have far too many things going on already. It sounds like it will need a lot of hard work and I am not sure if I like it quite enough for that, having found in the past that initial enthousiasm for a new composition sometimes quickly wanes.
Thanks again Chris. Considered feedback like yours here is invaluable and encouraging. I am taking it to heart as I continue to work on this.
This first movement is indeed difficult enough. The polyphony-with-polymeter construction demands careful attention and a challenge to fingering. But that also provides a lot of room for differing interpretations. I'd be delighted to see if someone could perform this more expressively than this rendering. I am concentrating on the composing side for now.
Regarding fugue. Although multiple voicing is used pretty much throughout, a three-voice fugato appears as the Sonata-form's development of the second theme. It's not a complete traditional fugue -this much was challenging enough. The movement's ending section is a near-complete reprise of the A-B-A opening, but with a more emphatic final bar. I had considered ending with a repeat of the fugue, including a climactic buildup as you suggest, but decided I liked the symmetry of the current structure for a first movement. So the movement indeed ends abruptly. But that sets up the second movement which contiues based on a theme from the first movement's inverted development of the first theme. The third movement, although just in an early stage at this time, continues the circularity and will indeed have a much grander ending, as you call for. I do go for a big finish in most of my works.
I know what you mean about waning enthusiasm. I've "tabled" trying to learn to play several pieces after getting into them - due to frustrations or mainly distractions. It happens on the composing side as well. They sometimes call it writer's block.