Along a Rocky Path (1993)
clarinet, violin, and piano

Robert Morris

Program Notes

Along a Rocky Path was inspired by the playing of Kelly Burke, the clarinetist of The Arlington Trio for which the piece was composed. Like some of my other recent pieces, Along a Rocky Path reflects aspects of natural landscape--especially less frequented and more rugged terrain. Shortly after completing the piece in January 1993, I came across a poem of the eighteenth-century Japanese poet, Uragami Gyokudo, from which I took the title of my trio. Gyokudo was also a chin virtuoso (an ancient Chinese zither) and renowned painter who wandered in the Japanese highlands writing music and poems, stopping here and there to paint landscapes.

Along a Rocky Path is in a rough arch-form articulated by solos placed amid the otherwise three-instrument texture. The order of the solos is: clarinet, piano, and violin.

Along a Rocky Path
There is no heat on this rocky path,
The sound of the water from a mountain stream is most pure,
By the red leaves, I know there must be a man's hut nearby;
My traveler's path is hidden in the white clouds.
Over the twisting path hang the waterfalls of Mount Lu,
The plank roads of Szechwan cross the steep mountains.
There is no need to bemoan the journey:
Wherever I chant my poems is home.

Uragami Gyokudo (1745-1820)
--translated by Stephen Addiss