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And the Air was Dancing

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Grenfell, M ORCID: 0000-0002-3304-0821 2019 , And the Air was Dancing. Ivy Street Ensemble.

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Abstract

Texture and density are critical in Maria Grenfell’s 21-minute triple concerto for flute (doubling alto flute and piccolo), violin, viola and string orchestra. Transparent passages with fewer voices and widely spaced chords contrast sharply with close harmonies that often narrow to seconds. This contrast drives the harmony and defines the big contours of the concerto. The structures throughout, especially in the first two movements, have a free, pictorial, cinematic feel of episodes and scenes, as opposed to an architectural formal feel; I'm not detecting sonatas and rondos. Melodies, rich but elusive, dart in and out of the textures like colorful birds through a canopy of trees. You don’t leave the hall humming the tunes – they’re too quick to catch -- but you enjoy their fleeting charms. Those melodies, by the way, often occur in close canon, especially early in the finale. Which is cool. Beyond canon, a good deal of counterpoint -- subject/countersubject and stretto -- plays out under camouflage of the denser textures. In the finale: The push and pull of breakneck speed and static reverie vies with textural contrast as the main issue. The music tries to rest and settle down, but the forward drive is just too strong. In the opening two minutes and intermittently throughout, Grenfell inserts atmospheric bits in which the music hovers suspended in time. She stops to smell the roses during a cross-country race. Very charming. The extended tonal harmonies and the aural sensuality of the music, especially in those floating moments, make it feel French to me. Grenfell doesn’t copy Ravel/Debussy; she offers a fresh take on Impressionist vocabulary.

Item Type: Creative Works
Authors/Creators:Grenfell, M
Keywords: Composition
Publisher: Ivy Street Ensemble
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 Maria Grenfell

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