Quietude : trio
by Sally Greenaway (2015)
Score SampleView a sample of the score of this work
Commissioned by PLEXUS for their 'Post-Patriarchal' concert, paying tribute to the sacrifices made during the turmoil of the First World War.
The piece explores the mental anguish of returning soldiers and takes inspiration from Richard Aldington's poem 'Bombardment'.
Four days the earth was rent and
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.
The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.
The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.
The piece opens with a fragile and exposed line intertwining the violin and clarinet, symbolising both comradery and the white clouds which move 'in silent lines across the untroubled blue'. The setting is soon interrupted by a dark and troubled piano figure which echoes the memories of the destruction from the battlefield. This material slowly erodes and becomes more disfigured and unsettled as the piece progresses. The climax, full of jarring rhythms and angular intervals (which are based on inversions and systematic increases or decreases in pitch based on the original melodic material) is expressive of the mental shock endured by those undertaking therapy for post traumatic stress disorder. The piece concludes with a restating of the original theme, but this time includes a sparse piano accompaniment to add to the harmonic framework, hinting at the futility of war and the immense waste and suffering that comes from wars. Performance directions: The opening (bars 1-9) requires both the violin and clarinet to play inside each other's sound in order to achieve the right effect. The listener must be able to clearly hear the melody that arises from the intertwining of the two parts. Throughout the piece, the pianist is advised to use the sustain pedal liberally, at their discretion. They could perhaps consider holding the sustain pedal (and lightly fluttering the pedal) throughout the very soft passages where the una corda pedal is also used (for example, bars 9-13). This creates an echoing and retrospective effect. In bar 21 and bar 66, the clarinet is to play multiphonics At bar 51, the composer requests that the violinist and clarinettist turn slowly and move towards the back of the stage. They have 4 bars in order to reach their new position, ready to continue playing at bar 56. The idea is to achieve a more distant effect. The performers are encouraged to be creative with this idea - they could stand behind the piano, or move to the wings of the stage if the stage is narrow. Please note however that this requires both performers to memorise the final bars of the piece, or for a second set of music stands to already be set up in the required positions.
Instrumentation: Clarinet, violin, piano.The composer requests that the violinist and clarinettist turn slowly and move towards the back of the stage for the final section of the piece.
Duration: 5 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Multiphonics for clarinet, large jumps (range) in the piano part
Dedication note: Dedicated to Plexus Ensemble
Commission note: Commissioned by Plexus Ensemble.
First performance: by Plexus Ensemble — 16 Mar 15. Melbourne Recital Centre.
- Has as subject/About: Commemoration of war
Performances of this work
16 Mar 15: Melbourne Recital Centre.. Featuring Plexus Ensemble.
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