Shards, chorales and dances : for guitar, clarinet and string trio
by Paul Stanhope (2002)
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From the CD New chamber music recordings 2004
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Library shelf no. CD 1322 [Available for loan]
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Two distinct and highly contrasting musical strands are employed throughout this piece. Spiky, angular fragments characterised by snap pizzicato and repeated splashes of instrumental colour, suggesting the idea of shards. By contrast, a more serene and contemplative chorale-like section acts as a foil to the vigorous activity of the opening material. These highly contrasting ideas initially present as gestural and textual opposites.
After a more contemplative section based on the chorale material, the argumentative nature of the two opposing types of material gives way to a blurring and transforming of the initial ideas. After a re-assertion of the shard-like figures, the chorale theme is transformed into a vigorous dance - perhaps with some Middle Eastern inflections - played firstly by the guitar and later by the whole ensemble. In this section, the opposing rhetorical devices are revealed to be both drawn from the same well-spring and willingly converge into different sorts of dance. Triplet figures derived from earlier sequential passages heard in the opening of the work now take over and drive the music forward: the feeling here is one of constant flight. A frenzied and quirky coda with references to the opening brings the music full circle.
Shards, Chorales and Dances was commissioned by Perihelion and Ensemble 24, and was recorded by this combined ensemble, along with guitarist Karin Schaupp in October 2002. The work was composed as a part of the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Fellowship awarded to the composer in 2001-2002. By a quirk of history (and perhaps because of its unusual instrumental combination) the piece remained forgotten and unperformed until September 2018, where it was premiered by the Australia Ensemble with its original advocate, guitarist Karin Schaupp.
Instrumentation: Guitar, clarinet in B flat, violin, viola, cello.
Duration: 10 min.
Written during the composer's time at Peggy Glanville-Hicks House, Paddington, Sydney.
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