Duo for Violin and Percussion “Meditation, Rhapsody, and Bacchanal”
by Joseph Lin and Svet Stoyanov on March 1, 2005
Jeffery Cotton’s website: http://www.jefferycotton.net
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The composer writes: As the title suggests, the work is structured as a wedge, starting out quietly and ending with a raucous bang. But the inclusion of a meditation at one end and a bacchanal at the other also indicates that tongue is firmly planted in cheek. This Meditation is more about the attempt to meditate rather than the actual act. The percussion part is divided into two distinct groups: a set of four mixed cymbals of the percussionist’s choosing, plus three tuned gongs. The cymbals represent the intrusion of the real world into the meditative process. The gongs represent the meditative state. Appearances of the mantra, after the opening solemn statement from the violin, range from angry to pleading to comic, as the violin struggles to find some peace. The appearance of the waterphone at the end of the movement represents not so much a meditation as some kind of compromised state-of-mind.
A rhapsody is usually thought of as a musical work, but the word actually comes from Greek meaning “to recite epic poetry.” This seems apt, because the second movement contains a vague narrative. The violin part is marked bluesy at the start, suggesting this poem is perhaps more mundane than epic. Emphasizing the “bluesiness” is that the violin and marimba never agree on a key—when one is in the major mode, the other is in minor.
The Bulgarian tapan, the instrument featured in the last movement, looks like nothing more than a small, primitive bass drum. But when Svetoslav demonstrated the tapan to me, I was immediately struck by his joyous, boisterous energy, and became so impressed by the large range of sounds the instrument can produce that it inspired the third movement’s title. It is always a pleasure to write a work with specific musicians in mind, and especially so with this one, which I dedicate to both Joseph and Svetoslav.
Performances: the New Jersey New Music Forum (Union, NJ, 4/26/06), by Sharon Roffman (violin) and James Musto (prcussion), the River to River festival (NYC, 7/17/06), by Joseph Lin, Svetoslav Stoyanov, Kean Hall ( Union, NJ, 4/1/07), by Sharon Roffman and James Musto, Temple Sinai (Summit, NJ, 7/21/09), by Joanna Frankel (violin) and James Musto.
Sponsored by: The Linda Friedman family