» Chamber/Solo Pieces

Chamber/Solo Pieces (2006-2014)

Anatomy of a Spanish Garden (2014)

mandolin & guitar
9 min. 45 sec.

I. Stones and Roses
II. Beautiful Ruins
III. Light on Water
IV. Paths to the Sea

Anatomy of a Spanish Garden was inspired by an exploration of landscape architecture and design, with particular reference to several gardens in Spain. It occurred to me that there are many common elements between designing a garden, and creating a piece of music: structure and shape, careful selection of materials suited to the “climate”, a variety of surfaces (textures), interesting paths and vistas/resting points, colour and contrast.

The first movement, “Stones and Roses”, was inspired by San Segundo in Ávila, with its harsh climate, stone wall, and beautiful octagonal pool. The crisp, symmetrical shape of an octatonic scale first came to mind, which then led into the exploration of the Arabic ‘maqam’—still with the architectural clarity of axial pitches, but also the colour and warmth of tones falling outside the 12-tone equal tempered scale. The second movement, “Beautiful Ruins” references El Monasterio, a monastery in Castile, constructed in 1480. This movement grows organically out of a sparse reference (four notes) from Thomas Tallis’ Third Mode Melody. The third movement, “Light on Water”, had several garden-references, including Palacio de Oca, in Pontevedra, but at its heart is the idea of a lively, shimmering, transparent surface, and a deeper layer of colour. The fourth movement, “Paths to the Sea” is an imagining of Santa Clotilde at Costa Brava– lively, verdant, overlooking the sea.

Anatomy of a Spanish Garden received its premiere, with Mark Ferris- mandolin, and Adrian Verdejo- guitar, at Pyatt Hall, Vancouver, Canada, March 28, 2015.

Performed by Duo Ahlert & Schwab at Forum NRW in Hertogenrath, Germany, July 24, 2017.

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/124940

 

Equinox (2013)

oboe, violin, viola, cello
7 min. 

Equinox refers to the time of year when the sun crosses the celestial equator; when days and nights are of equal length.  For this work, I was thinking in particular of the autumnal equinox, when nature shifts from a lush green palette and long stretches of sunny days, to a more compressed, colourful existence with a briskness in the air, heralding the fall season.

This piece was composed for a Macedonian ensemble, Music Progressive Quartet, whom I had the pleasure to meet and tour with, while visiting the Balkans in summer of 2012.  There are many references to Balkan rhythms, melody, and ornamentation in this music, though not in any traditional context.  ‘Equinox’ is a convergence of elements that creates the unique sense of vitality and shifting of balance inherent in the changing seasons.

Equinox received its premiere, with Geronimo Mendoza- oboe, Mark Ferris- violin, Manti Poon- viola, and Sue Round- cello, at Pyatt Hall, Vancouver, Canada, March 30, 2014.

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/81132

 

Alchemy (2012)

horn, cello & piano

~20:15

Alchemy was conceived as a trio for horn, cello, and piano, in three movements. The three-part structure was inspired by the three stages of the medieval alchemical process– attempting to turn base metals into gold, or the ‘elixir of life’: 1: corruption/dissolution, 2: purification (linked to the moon and femininity), and 3: enlightenment/sublimation (linked to the sun and masculinity). The horn introduces a short theme in the first movement, which is then transformed through seven variations– seven being the number of metals involved in the alchemical process. The second movement is slow, sensuous, and lyrical, drawing inspiration from jazz tonalities, as well as from the delicate raindrop-like sound and polyrhythmic patterns of the kora (west African harp). The third movement brings the piece to a bright, rhythmically intense culmination.

-Commission funded in part by the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Program of the International Horn Society

-2nd movement premiered by Oliver de Clercq- horn, Zoltan Rozsnyai- cello, and Chris Morano- piano, at the Sonic Boom Festival, Western Front, Vancouver, 25 March 2012

-full piece (all 3 mvts) premiered by Oliver de Clercq- horn, Ariel Barnes- cello, and Rachel Iwaasa- piano, at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Vancouver, 20 May, 2012

Sheet music is available through the International Horn Society:

http://www.hornsociety.org/marketplace/online-library#!/~/product/id=18634910

 

Yarilo (2007)

solo cello

15 min.

This piece is named after the Slavonic sun deity. According to legend, Yarilo returns from the otherworld each year after Shrovetide to usher in springtime and provide a bountiful harvest. He is celebrated in the springtime through the midsummer, but as his life is connected to the agricultural cycle, he is “killed” at the end of summer, along with the harvest of the crops. This piece takes its source material from four traditional Russian folksongs. Beginning with darkness/winter, the piece moves progressively through the yearly agricultural cycle.

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/32150

 

October (2007)

solo piano

2 min. 40 sec.

 

Sheet music is available through Syrinx Press:

https://www.elizabethknudson.ca/syrinx-press

 

Anagrams for November (2007)

alto flute and viola

1 min. 45 sec.

beaches, babes, heads, cafes—

each faded, deaf,

each sees seas— ages,

ages, faded, dead

 

Anagrams for November was written especially for the Vancouver Miniaturist Ensemble. The alto flute spells out the musical anagrams of this collection of words (in concert pitch), while the viola provides some counterpoint, creating a breathy dialogue between the two parts.

The piece was edited again in 2017, to create a new arrangement for tenor recorder and violin.

 

 

 

Sheet music (for both versions) is available through Syrinx Press:

https://www.elizabethknudson.ca/syrinx-press

 

Winter Suite: Eight Vignettes (2007)

two trumpets in C (1st tpt. doubling Bb picc.), and piano

14 min.

This piece was composed as a series of eight miniatures, or vignettes, inspired by a cycle of three poems about winter (by Robert Pack). Each vignette bears a subtitle taken from a line of poetry, representing the character of that particular movement—all being reflections on different facets of the winter season (i.e. brightness/exuberance, deadly chill, beauty, storm/chaos, stillness).

  1. I. Prelude
  2. II. I watched drowned snow appear to lift up from the lake
  3. III. Your red cheeks radiant against the wind
  4. IV. A frame of gilded twilight
  5. V. Cascading snowflakes settle in the pines
  6. VI. Homeward into the howling woods
  7. VII. Only a whiter absence to my mind
  8. VIII. Merely a mockery of spring

 

 

Sheet music is available through the Canadian Music Centre:

http://www.musiccentre.ca/node/32151