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The Northlands trio is inspired by the North Country, specifically Northern New England (the composer's home). However, any North Country might suit this music.
"Due North - Elevation" speaks of the excitement of driving up to the North Country (as the composer has done very often). A brief piano introduction (upwardly leaping octaves) beckons the listener to travel North. This is energetic, "set off on the journey" music. The violin theme is marked "with exuberance." A slightly slower middle section offers time for reflection, before the travels resume, with joy. The high sonorities at the end celebrate the arrival at the North Country.
Life in the North Country is now explored. The Cello plays a descending scale, as if dropping a fishing line down through a hole in the ice-covered lake. A rough-hewn, "salty" theme is now heard. Up-bow glissandi in the Violin may suggest catching a fish. The jagged middle section, filled with rests, is a time for fishing and waiting. And then...at the end...a catch!
The open land and autumn colors of the landscape are truly spectacular. Tone clusters (piano) grow into full blocks of sound. A simple A major theme of open intervals is shared between Violin and Cello. The music then alternates between the "open land" theme and the color-filled chord clusters. These are gentle sounds.
In contrast, the "Lumberjack's Song" is assertive and heavy-footed, perhaps in the style of a clogging tune. Subtlety is lost as the logger swings away. After a hard day's work, it is time for a libation and a final toast, with friends.
"Call of the North" is a nostalgic movement. The introduction revisits the opening invitation to travel north. This leads to a theme (Cello), which rises slowly, reverently and tonally. A gentle counter motive (Violin) falls gracefully, as a quiet waterfall. The final ascending scales lead to high pitches, held, as a heartfelt singing gesture to the beloved land.
Notes by the composer