Piano, violin, violoncello
10 October 2005, Sprague Hall, New Haven CT, USA. Sheng-Yuan Kuan (piano), Angela Early (violin), Ariana Falk (cello)
16 November 2005, West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, UK. Le Huray Trio: Roderick Chadwick (piano), Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin), Christopher Suckling (cello)
This work was commissioned by the Le Huray Trio in memory of Peter le Huray, founder of the Cambridge University Instrumental Awards Scheme.
Score and parts here.
When Christopher of the le Huray Ensemble asked me to write this piece, I enquired what sort of piece he wanted, whether he had any specific requests he wished me to bear in mind. “I don’t really care,” he replied, “as long as it has structure.”
However, before considering the structure of the piece, I was interested in exploring the potential of the ensemble itself. The sounds of strings and piano are highly different and yet they form one of the most familiar units in chamber music. This issue was central to my conception of the trio and is addressed by the use of three ‘relationships’ which govern how the instruments of the ensemble interact. The first relationship avoids the problem by never having strings and piano play at the same time (this is always in a fast tempo). The second seeks to exploit the different methods of tone production by allowing one instrument to come to the fore as soloist and the other two to accompany (slow tempo). The third attempts to knit all three instruments in a single sound through interlocking but independent ostinato-like lines (middle tempo).
Taking Christopher’s requirement into account, the structure of the trio is deliberately made starkly clear: there are no transitions between any of the nine sections but rather one area cuts directly to the next. The discourse for each section is determined by the combination of one of the three relationships governing the ensemble with one of three types of material. At the outset the three types of material are strongly differentiated. However, when played within the ensemble’s different relationship-environments as the piece progresses, these materials are necessarily mutated. Through this process, all the material gradually becomes closer to a basic arpeggio which is the source for all the music in the trio. Thus, although each section represents a single, static state, the piece has an overall motion leading to the final section, a single long arpeggio which eventually compacts onto itself and regains the opening gesture of the trio.Three instruments, three relationships for the ensemble, three types of material, three times three sections, three hundred bars (coincidentally), and lots and lots of thirds.