The composer describes his Lyric Serenade, a five-movement duo for violin and bass: “The title describes its character as being lyric-dramatic, as opposed to develop.m.ental and symphonic. Although there is no specific programmatic narrative to the work, there is a clear dramatic trajectory to the succession of movements. The first and last movements use a deliberately accessible style (groove-based rhythms, regular phrase structure, strong melodic profiles, extended tonalities) to represent an extroverted position. The second and fourth movements represent transition and are more ambivalent in their presentation of material. The second movement reluctantly moves away from the security of the conventions heard in the first movement, and towards a less familiar, but more personal, language of its own. The central movement, marked ‘slow’ and ‘static’ is the most contemplative and introverted of the group. The movement begins quietly and in unison. As the lines move chromatically away from each other, the dissonance creates a ‘beating’ between the notes, which in turn generates motion and an increase in tempo. There are no traditional bar lines in this movement. Instead the instrumentalists must create lines and ‘events’ (chords and harmonies). Eventually what emerges is a progression, not unlike that of a chorale, but in a decidedly modern language. The fourth movement is again one of transition, moving tentatively out from the introspective center while making an attempt to regain its momentum. The last movement re-establishes the confidence represented by a comparatively accessible style, but with an added element of complexity in its construction. Here accessibility masks a deeper complexity so it appears on first experience as remarkably similar in character, if not in language, to the first movement. But a closer listening will reveal some of the most highly nuanced music of the entire suite. One might detect a symmetrical pattern to the design, and in its crudest form the movements do reflect an ABCBA configuration. Rather than being a return, the latter B and A (movements 4 and 5) continue the progression of ideas that are part of the larger musical argument.
Sponsored by: Karen Sternal