Trio for violin, clarinet, piano ; 1988 ; Duration ca. 13:20

The work is in three movements:

  1. Black Crescent
  2. The Loneliness and Mystery of a Street
  3. Candle Dancers

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.

PDF score excerpt
Shown here are the opening 6 measures from the beginning of the work.

MP3 audio excerpt
This excerpt is from the second movement, from the end of measure 22, score page 20, through measure 30, score page 25 (the unmetered "measures" are quite long). The audio quality is rather poor, as this clip was derived from a cassette tape. The performers are Todd Reynolds, violin, Marianne Gythfeld, clarinet and Carl Witt, piano.
Duration : 78 seconds; size 2.4 MB ; encoding 256 kBit

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:

Return to Allan Schindler's List of Compositions

Copyright 2005  Allan Schindler
Designed by Keum-Taek Jung