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Commissioned by the Alturas Duo, Carlos Boltes, Viola and Scott Hill, Guitar, for premiere at the Connecticut Guitar Festival, February 10, 2019, Westport, CT
These duets for Viola and Guitar were composed in a New England folk music style characterized by simplicity of language, and sparseness of texture. The rural landscape speaks through the notes.
Since the music was composed during the Autumn of 2018, indeed started on Thanksgiving Day (!), there is a youthful purity to the opening movement (as if remembering Thanksgiving days from childhood). This is simply a melody for Viola, accompanied by Guitar. The theme is exchanged between the instruments, a rhythmic section serves as an interlude, and the theme returns with more full accompaniment.
A connection to the second movement, "Fallen Leaves," incorporates the tuning down of the Guitar lowest string to D with a falling Viola glissando. The theme itself is marked mournfully, and is exchanged between Guitar and Viola. The middle section features chromatic descending chords and arpeggios in Guitar.
"Rhythms" starts calmly, with Guitar tuning back up to E. This is followed by the Guitarist enjoying tapping the strings, treating the Guitar as a percussion instrument. Viola joins in this percussion exploration of sounds. The New England inspiration for this movement comes from the joy of rhythm as a life force.
Notes by the composer