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Hell is Murky : for piano trio

by Jack Symonds (2014)

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Hell is Murky,  op. 19


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Work Overview

This piano trio is an abstracted tour through four key scenes of growing insanity from Macbeth. The first movement is a fast dance of the Weird Sisters as they foretell cataclysm amidst canker-tinged frivolity. A stable, pulsed round-dance is attempted several times but is always just a sinister illusion.

Lady Macbeth's mad scene follows, as she recites poetry like a fetish and tries in vain to cling to small kernels of order and beauty. Certain 'poisons' are injected into the music from the outset that gradually destroy both its syntax and its content.

Next, a ghostly apparition enters the feast and Macbeth's mind too, unravels. Discarded, inserted scraps of other music are sucked into a highly unstable vortex that can't decide whether it unfolds quickly or slowly. Internal dreams are made external nightmares.

The final scene is a meditation on Macbeth's final description of life as like a 'walking shadow'. The strings play with metal mutes to reduce their sound to a grainy whisper, raking over moments from previous movements in a futile attempt to lyrically escape the labyrinth of bloody madness.

Work Details

Year: 2014

Instrumentation: Piano, violin, cello.

Duration: 14 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Killing Swine (3 min.) -- II. The Thane of Fife had a wife (4 min.) -- III. Twenty trenchèd gashes (3 min.) -- IV. A Walking Shadow (4 min.).

Commission note: Commissioned by Streeton Trio.

First performance: by Streeton Trio — 3 Nov 14. Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:


Performances of this work

3 Nov 14: Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House. Featuring Streeton Trio.

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