Trio for violin, clarinet, piano ; 1988 ; Duration ca. 13:20
The work is in three movements:
The three movements of this work each explore a particular quality of musical gesture, movement, mood and texture suggested, respectively, by art works of Alexander Calder (Black Crescent), Giorgio De' Chirico (The Loneliness and Mystery of a Street) and Emil Nolde (Candle Dancers). The title Vessels of Magic was taken from a watercolor by Mark Rothko.
The opening movement, Black Crescent, is a rhythmic and contrapuntal study. The three instruments are treated as an interwoven ensemble, sharing, developing and echoing common thematic ideas, but with overlapping phrases and cross accents that produce a leap-frog type of forward propulsion. In the second movement (linked to the first by a sustained clarinet tone) the instruments are treated more independently, as separate threads, each developing its own thematic ideas and spiraling outward in different directions. In the final movement, an unmetered dance, the three instruments alternately pull apart and come back together (or interact) texturally. The image in my mind, suggested by Nolde's painting, was of three lithe, barefoot figures dancing around a candle, sometimes responding to each others' motions, but at other times totally absorbed in their own movements.
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This work was premiered by the Vanguard Chamber Players in New York and Rochester, and its composition was supported by a 1987 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.For performance information on this work please send e-mail to:
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