Dan Coleman describes his composition: “‘Sad and Ancient Phrases’ was commissioned by Jean-Paul Bierny and Chris Tanz. I am grateful for their generosity and inspiration. I composed this piece at my former home in New York City, at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, and in Tucson. Both Jennifer Frautschi and Pedja Muzijevic have performed works of mine for this combination of instruments. It’s very exciting to have an opportunity to work with these stellar performers again.
“‘Sad and Ancient Phrases’ is my fourth extended essay for violin and piano, and lasts about twelve minutes. While this single movement roughly follows an ABA form, the return of the opening material is transformed and influenced by what has happened in between. In the beginning of the piece, melodies appear in succession and later are heard simultaneously. I am fascinated by this technique of combining what was once separate into a new harmonious whole.
“The middle section of the piece is based on a song I composed in 1995. The song, ‘Dissolving Views,’ is a setting of a sardonic poem by Rachel Wetzsteon about unrequited love. As in the case of Schubert reworking his own songs into violin music, a programmatic element can be construed. Here the music takes a turn toward cabaret.
“The title ‘Sad and Ancient Phrases’ is meant to convey the melancholy, Brahmsian music which appears opposite more contemporary sounds. This journey through various styles is present in all my most recent music. While I could claim to be nostalgic at the end of the century, ‘Sad and Ancient Phrases’ is wistful for a much more personal reason. I moved to Tucson in early November, and this piece marks a big change in my life. The audience will notice that for all its pathos and occasional tension, the piece ends very sweetly and hopefully. I look forward to the new music I will write here.”
Sponsored by: Jean-Paul Bierny and Chris Tanz