Piano Quartet : piano quartet
by Ross Edwards (2017)
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The two movements that make up my Piano Quartet were composed eighteen years apart, the first commissioned by the now defunct Australian Piano Quartet of Perth; the second, by the very active Australia Piano Quartet of Sydney.
The first movement, Emerald Crossing - a serene passacaglia with characteristics of a barcarolle - is a response to a waking dream I had in which a canoe was being propelled slowly across calm green water, possibly a lagoon, towards an island. No doubt symbolic at a deep level, I had the feeling that the journey was ceremonial, that some form of ritual was being enacted, and that the point of arrival would hold special significance.
The second movement celebrates the landfall in a series of dance episodes linked by fragmentary references to the mediaeval European plainsong Ave Maris Stella. Beginning rather like a drone-based estampie, the European allusion swiftly becomes intertwined with a plethora of fleeting cross-cultural references traversing musical traditions of East Asia and the Pacific Rim, and intertwined with hints of birdsong. Following a reflective, song-like interlude with mournful birds, the work ends with a classic maninya, (Australian dance-chant), inspired by the ecstatic sound texture of a natural environment in high summer, and establishing the sense of place it appears to have been seeking all along. A fleeting revisit by the plainsong fragment turns abruptly into the jubilant shriek of a parrot.
Instrumentation: Piano, violin, viola, cello.
Duration: 17 min.
Contents note: I. Emerald Crossing -- II. Sea Star Dances.
Performances of this work
10 Dec 17: Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House. Featuring Australia Piano Quartet.
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