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The Lyrebird in my Piano : for clarinet/bass clarinet, violin and pianoforte

by Richard Grantham (2014)

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Work Overview

The Lyrebird in my Piano was composed for Melbourne trio PLEXUS to fulfil the 2014 Lyrebird Commission. The title alludes not only to the commission and the instrumentation, but also to the extraordinary talents for mimicry of the Superb Lyrebird itself: not only can they perfectly imitate other birds' calls and assorted environmental sounds, but some in close contact with humans have been heard imitating their neighbours' music. Some observers have even claimed that the bird appears to be capable of combining two tunes, and singing them practically at the same time (though this is disputed).

The Lyrebird in my Piano is an attempt to answer the whimsical question of what a hypothetical lyrebird residing in my piano might sing. Each of the work's three movements is a hybrid of the styles of two of my favourite 20th-century composers, whose works are liable to find themselves inexpertly hammered out on my well-loved Yamaha. The styles are in no way intended to be rigorously authentic, which would prove a less interesting exercise in any case.

The three movements are 'Satók' (Satie x Bartók), 'Reichemitsu' (Reich x Takemitsu), and 'Debugeti' (Debussy x Ligeti).

Work Details

Year: 2014

Instrumentation: Clarinet in A/bass clarinet in B flat, violin, piano.

Duration: 20 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Satok -- II. Reichemitsu -- III. Debugeti.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Plexus Ensemble, Lyrebird Music Society

Commission note: Commissioned by Lyrebird Music Society.

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc in relation to this work:
Strongly influenced by Bartok, Satie, Reich, Takemitsu, Debussy, and Ligeti.

Performances of this work

28 Apr 2024: at Folk and Fantasy (Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room). Featuring Anna Rutkowska-Schock, Andrew Kennedy, Alexandra Osborne.

8 Jun 14: Wyselaskie Auditorium (29 College Crescent, Parkville) . Featuring Philip Arkinstall, Monica Curro, Stefan Cassomenos.

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