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CHAMBER MUSIC

 

Incantation and Fire Dance (violin and guitar) (2013)
Music in Four Sharps (guitar and string quartet) (2004)

Chiacona (for guitar and organ) (2002
)
Two Japanese Songs (alto flute, harp and viola) (2001)
Eternal Lullaby (violin, clarinet, and piano) (2001)
Air (for flute, string quartet, and piano) (2001)
Air (flute or oboe and harp) (2000) 
Lullaby (flute, harp and viola) (2000)
Piano Murmurs (violin, clarinet, cello, and piano) (2000)
Elegy (violin and piano) (1999)

Río de llantos (flute, violin, viola, cello, and piano) (1998)
Trí Chairde (Three Friends) (flute, harp and viola) (1994)
Thamar y Amnón (flute, viola, and harp or piano) (1991)
Tientos (flute and string trio) (1991)


[14’]
[10’]

[13’]
[16']
[ 3’]
[ 4']
[6’]
[23’]
[19’]
[22’]
[ 5’]
[10’]
[23']


Guitar music

 

 

 

XXMusic in Four Sharps (guitar and string quartet) (2004)

Commissioned and premiered by Pacific Serenades (Scott Sanders, guitar, Roger Wilkie, violin, Brendan Speltz, violin, Simon Oswell, viola, David Speltz, cello).


Home of Alice and Joe Coulombe, Pasadena                  February 12, 2005

Neighborhood Church, Pasadena                 XXXXXXXFebruary 13, 2005

UCLA Faculty Center, Los Angeles                                February 15, 2005

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score:xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. $12.00
Parts: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx..$40.00
Score and parts rental: $250.00

Music in Four Sharps, a reworking of a piece written in the early 90's for two guitars, entitled 'Portrait of A Young Woman,' was commissioned by Pacific Serenades. It begins as a deconstruction of a song by John Dowland, "Now oh now I needs must part." I used the version familiar to guitarists called the Frog Galliard. Several minutes into its composition I noticed that I had not used any accidentals, a characteristic of the Dowland original.  Had I needed any I surely would have used some, but as it turned out I finished the piece without straying from the seven notes of the E-major scale, hence the title of the new version.  As the piece starts, the Renaissance original provides a solid chaconne like bass, with bits of free counterpoint wafting over increasingly more complete quotations.  Soon enough the galliard, fully assembled, takes its place on the sonic stage, rather like a late arrival of the ‘theme’ in a theme and variations composition.  After this opening structural crescendo, the piece drifts off into a hymn-like musing in smooth, unbroken sixteenth notes before building to a passionate climax.  The work ends quietly, with yet another deconstruction of the Dowland and fades away as peacefully as it began.


In the original version for two guitars, both players had nearly identical parts, most of which could be practiced (hypothetically) in unison. In performance, however, the two are separated by such a large temporal distance that even an experienced listener is not likely to hear the canonic relationship between the two, nor was I counting on this!  I decided to preserve this relationship in the present version, except now that the canon occurs between the solo guitar and the string quartet, with its vastly expanded sonic potential, the canonic relationship is obscured even further. Still, bits and pieces of this process might bubble to the surface from time to time and might be fun to listen out for.

Chiacona (for guitar and organ) 2002 [10’]  X               

Commissioned by the American Guild of Organists for the Biennial National Convention in Los Angeles, California, and premiered by Christoph Bull, organist, with guitarist Scott Tennant, Royce Hall, UCLA, 9:15 &10:45 A.M., July 6, 2004.  The organ used by Mr. Bull was made by B.F. Skinner.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.           

Score and guitar part: $18.00

Duration: 10’

Program notes and performance history:

The Chiacona for guitar and organ is a ‘trope’ (free variation) on a Baroque violin piece of the same name by Bertali.  I have enjoyed ‘transforming’ the music of others to create new music since my college days, and have oft turned to Baroque and Renaissance pieces for sources and inspiration.  Other examples of this approach from my catalogue would have to include Antique Suite, Folías, Labyrinth, Music in Four Sharps, and Double Concerto,each a transformation of a piece or pieces by Neuseidler, Corelli, Led Zeppelin, John Dowland, and Pierre De La Rue, respectively.  In fact, this approach has been central to my work for many years, and each time I do it, I do so differently.  The Chiacona is particularly strict in that the finished piece ‘maps’ back squarely to the original in nearly every respect.  Put another way: take out my notes and emendations and you will be left with Bertali’s original!  Lest it seem as if I am on the verge of dismissing my contribution as a mere accretion encrusted to a perfectly fine (and innocent) work of art (!) let me hasten to add that I do this not for lack of imagination on my part but to stimulate it.  In the present case you might think of my version as a kind of ‘extended performance practice,’ in which, I added embellishments according to the Baroque norm  but without its stylistic limitations.  This is the key.  Often my changes involve expanding upon or exaggerating tendencies already present in the original.  For example, Bertali’s (at times surprising and strange) modulations and key changes elicited in me the strangest and oddest moments in the piece.  Points of imitation are often expanded upon to create geometric ‘bubbles’ in the form.  Motives can become ostinatos.  A chord might linger beyond its expected duration creating unusual colors and unexpected conflicts, and so on.  The possibilities are endless.In any event, the Bertali materials floats back and forth between the two solo instruments over an omnipresent ground bass, creating a dialogue between two solo instruments with ancient histories and rich traditions.  I evoked both traditions liberally.  The organ writing reflects Baroque, Renaissance, and of course, contemporary traditions, while that for the guitar, though drawing upon similar influences, is colored by various ‘pop’ styles as well, without (hopefully) straying too far afield.  Though suitable for live performance in just the right circumstances, the piece works particularly well as a recording, where balancing and mixing can help to create just the right effect.

XXTwo Japanese Songs (alto flute, harp and viola) (2001)

Commissioned and premiered by the Debussy Trio (Angela Weigand, alto flute, Marcia Dickstein, harp and David Walther, viola), Cal State Chico, March 7, 2002

Published by Fatrock Ink Music Publishers

Program and performance history: Two Japanese Songs (originally entitled At the Edge of Firelight) was commissioned by the superb Debussy Trio -- for whom it has been my pleasure to write often -- and completed in 2001. As with many of my owrks, it is inspired by my wife and children.


(Two Japanese Children’s Songs)

I. Hora nero, nen nero

 Sleep, Baby, Sleep

Hora Nero, Nen Nero is a komori uta (charming song) from the town of Aizu Takadamachi in Fukushima Prefecture.


“Hora nero nen nero
  hora nero nen nero ya ya.”

  Literal translation:
 “Sleep, baby, sleep.”
           

II. Hitori de sabishii

 Alone and Sad

This hauntingly beautiful melody comes from the Sendai area in Tohoko district and can be classified as a tedama (ball juggling) and counting song.

“Hitori de sabishii,
futari de mairi ma sho.

Miwatasu kagiri,
yomena ni tanpo.

Imōto no sukina
murasaki sumire.

Nanohana saita
yasashii chōchō.

Kokonotsu komeya
tō made maneku.”

Literal translation:

“I feel lonely all by myself.
Shall we two go together?
As far as the eye can see there is grass and dandelion.
We can also see the violets my younger sister loves.
The flowers bloom and beautiful butterflies flutter about.
The rice shop welcomes us.”

From “Folk Songs of Japanese Children”, compiled and annotated by Donald Paul Berger, Charles E. Tuttle Company, Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan, 1969.

XzEternal Lullaby (violin, clarinet, and piano) (2001)  

Commissioned by Michigan State University for the Verdehr Trio, who gave the first performance at the "#34º Festival Internacional Encuentros 2002," Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 15, 2002, and at the Sala Alberto Ginastera, La Plata, Argentina, Sseptember 14, 2002.

Duration 16'
       
Score and parts
available from the composer.
Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score                                 $12.00
Parts                                  $40.00
Score and parts rental      $250.00

Program notes and performance history:

The opening of Eternal Lullaby, a languid clarinet solo, came to me during the summer of 2001 while watching my three small children at play in the surf at Malub Beach. Perhaps it was the peaceful, idyllic mood and the setting that produced it that caused the melody to drift away into silence with each strophe, but whatever the cause, this gesture and the simple lullaby-like motto which set it into motion (d - f - d - c -) became the basis for the entire composition. In fact, one could view the whole piece as a single drawn out expression of the opening phrase. I have always been drawn to simple, elegant motives of this sort, and have consciously sought after melodies that embodied a natural, folk-like quality of expression. I hardly think of these as something original, or unique to me, but as something universal, something found. In this spirit I have returned again and again to the lullaby -- the most primal and comforting of first musics -- as a fundamental source for my compositions. The alternately elegiac and passionate moods of the work evolved after I was well into the piece, and the periodic lapses into ethereality and stillness are undoubtedly a hearkening back to the strange pianissimo arabesques of the opening clarinet solo. The final pages of the work were written on September 11, 2001.xx

Air (for flute, string quartet, and piano) (2001)
Air (solo piano version) (2001)   
 

Commissioned by Santa Susana School, Chatsworth, California, 2001.

Program notes and performance history:
From time to time I enjoy writing an ‘air’ in the Irish style.  Though no one would mistake this one for an authentic folk composition (as well they might in the case of my earlier ‘Air’ for guitar (with or without flute), or the airs from ‘Da Chara’), it is clearly influenced by the modality and earnestness of many true Irish airs.  It exists in three versions: one for solo piano, one for flute, string quartet and piano, and one suitable for singing with strummed acoustic guitar.  All three versions were written for various uses as the school song for the Santa Susana School in Chatsworth, California, where my two oldest children attended pre-school through first grade.  Though the school  no longer exists music does.  The chamber version has an optional extended coda, a quodlibet on some of the favorite pieces from Book One of the Suzuki violin method.

Published by Ian Krouse Music

Piano version: $6.00
Chamber version with parts: $35.00

XX.Air (flute or oboe and harp) 2000

Arrangement by the composer of a piece originally for guitar solo.

Published by Fatrock Ink Music Publishers.

Duration: 4'

Program notes and performance history:

Air is the earliest in a series of pieces inspired by traditional Irish music. Though many are decidedly neo-Celtic, this, the first, sounds fairly authentic. Though originally conceived for performance by an Irish band, it has often been performed in an arrangement for solo guitar.

 x xLullaby (flute, harp and viola) (2000)

Duration 6'

Program notes and performance history:

The Lullaby has a curiouso history. In the winter of 2000, I was working on a commission for Pacific Serenades for a new work for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano, which was premeried under the title Hommage à Messiaen. This work was later revised and published as Piano Murmurs.) At about the mid-point of its composition, as I was driving home late at night in a rainstorm, I began humming a melancholy Irish sounding tune. By the time I arrived home, it was finished. At the time, it didn't seem to have any connection to the quartet, but later the next day, when I resumed work on it, I couldn’t put the Irish tune away, and subsequently, it became a crucial aspect of Piano Murmurs.  In fact, in the end, it actually takes over!  When the Debussy Trio asked me for Irish music, it seemed natural to reconstitute the Irish lullaby in its original form, and flute, viola and harp was the perfect vehicle.  It is dedicated to my children.

Reviews:

“Krouse’s concuding “Lullaby” brings us nicely full circle with another Irish melody arranged with a subtle flair…” Lawrence A. Johnson, GRAMOPHONE, Awards Issue 2001

“Sometimes the mood was serene (as in Krouse’s “Lullaby,”elaborated from an Irish folk tune);”
Andrew Adler, THE COURIER-JOURNAL, November 13, 2000

 

Published by Fatrock, Ink Music Publishers

xxxPiano Murmurs (violin, clarinet, cello, and piano) (2000)  [23’]

Commissioned and premiered by Pacific Serenades, Martin Chalifour, violin, Gary Gray, flute, Cécilia Tsan, cello, Joanne Pearce Martin, piano, UCLA Faculty Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, March 21, 2000.

Score and parts available from the composer. Published by Ian Krouse Music

Score                                 $12.00
Parts                                  $40.00
Score and parts rental      $250.00

Program notes and performance history:
 
Piano Murmurs (premiered as ‘Hommage à Messiaen’) was begun on January 12, 2000 and completed in about four weeks.  In 2006, I decided to rework it a bit.  Material was cut, other spots expanded, textures thinned and so on.  As with all revisions, an attempt was made to save the best bits, while attenuating the weaknesses.  Though I still detect the spirit of Messiaen hovering about in places, especially in the long perpetuum mobile sections which are based freely upon some of his "modes of limited transposition," I decided to withdraw the original title, not out of disrespect for Messiaen, but because I thought it misleading, and because the newer version is a quite different piece from the original.  In the fall of 2007, at UCLA, I conducted the revised version with Neal Stulberg, pianist, Movses Pogossian, violin, Gary Gray, clarinet, and Isaac Melemed, cellist.  As with most of my works Piano Murmurs takes the shape of a continuous long movement, though it falls into readily discernible sections.  Unusual aspects of the work would have to include the very late entrance of the violin; the prolonged extreme altitude of much of the cello writing (it wanders up to a B-flat above the staff); the split personality of the clarinet, which at times consorts with one string instrument before moving on to the other; the gradual encroachment of a Celtic tinged lullaby; and, of course, the obsessive, perpetuum mobile of the rather difficult piano part, which clearly inspired the new title.        

xxxElegy (violin and piano) (1999)                                                                  

Requested and premiered by Searmi Park with Dennis Doubin pianist, Jan Popper Theater, UCLA, Los Angeles, June 8, 1999 and Schoenberg Recital Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, May 5, 1999.
 
Published by Peer Music Classical

Program notes and performance history:

The Elegy was written for violinist Searmi Park, who premiered and recorded the work at UCLA in 1999 with pianist Dennis Doubin.  Since that time it has also been performed by violinists Mark Kaplan and Lindsay Deutsch, and pianist Gloria Cheng.  The extended single movement is a musical reflection upon the intense emotions attendant to the lead up to and aftermath of the death of my father in 1997.  It veers wildly and unpredictably between violent spikes of anger, obsession and passion, and moments of profound resignation, calmness and innocence.  The Japanese inflections are undoubtedly attributable to musings on my children, two of whom were babies when my father died.  It was difficult going at first, but the final eight minutes or so were written in a single day.

xxxRío de llantos (flute, violin, viola, cello, and piano) (1998)  [22’]

Premiered by Sheridon Stokes, flute, Mark Kaplan, violin, Evan Wilson, viola, Barry Gold, cello, Walter Ponce, piano, Schoenberg Auditorium, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, January 20, 1999.

Published by Peer Music Classical

Program notes and performance history:

Río de llantos (River of Laments)
began as an elaborate fantasy for flute and guitar.  Unfortunately, and despite the greatest sincerity on my part, I produced a work that, while theoretically possible, is all but unplayable by mortal musicians!  (Not the first time this has happened.)  This was greatly troubling to me as I believed in the work and thought that it should be heard.  So began a search to recast the idea in a more practical form.  Essentially, the new version is a trope of the original work (in the medieval sense), in that I added new lines, enlarged the textures, redistributed parts, lengthened some sections, and completely recomposed the ending.  The greatest challenge was to find ways to translate the highly idiomatic guitar techniques to the related but very different world of the bowed string instruments.  In the main the guitar material has been spread between the piano and the three strings.  Obviously, I took full advantage of the additional possibilities provided by the enlarged color palette!  As with many of my works from this period, I was highly influenced by the supercharged melismatic style of flamenco singing called ‘cante jondo’ or deep song (heard mainly in the flute part), as well as the violent, earthy style of guitar playing that accompanies it.  In this respect, the work has much in common with my earlier works Tientos, for flute and string trio, and Bulerías, for guitar quartet.  All of the essential materials of Río de llantos  are derived from Federico García Lorca’s arrangement of De los cuatro muleros, a traditional Spanish song, which, in its cameo appearance towards the end, provides, I would think, a welcome oasis in an otherwise brooding landscape.

xxxTrí Chairde (Three Friends) (flute, viola, and harp)  (1994)  [6’]

Written for the Debussy Trio. 

Premiered by the Debussy Trio, Healdsburg, California, January 28, 1995.

Published by Fatrock Inc. Music Publishers

Program notes and performance history:

Trí Chairde, Gaelic for "three friends," is an arrangement of Da Chara for flute and guitar, written in the traditional Irish style.  Da Chara, which means, of course, "two friends" was commissioned by guitarist Anisa Angarola and flutist Valarie King.  The trio version was written on the occasion of the wedding of Marcia Dickstein (harpist for the Debussy Trio) and Fred Vogler.  It has since been performed around the world by the Debussy Trio, which often uses the brief work as an encore.  Written in a form largely inspired by Paddy Maloney of the Chieftains, it begins with an air in free style, followed by another air in ¾ time.  Next, the original air returns as a march, which gradually picks up energy until it bubbles over into a wild reel.  At the end of the reel, the first air returns one last time as a cantus firmus.

   xThamar y Amnón (flute, viola, and harp or piano) (1991)   [10’]

Premiered by the Debussy Trio, Angela Weigand, flute, Keith Greene, viola, Marcia Dickstein, harp, Festival of New American Music, Cal State University, Sacramento, California, November 13, 1991.

First recording by the Debussy Trio, ‘Ian Krouse’, Koch International Classics, Koch 3-7482-2 HI, released February 22, 2000. Version for flute, viola, and piano premiered by 20th Century Consort, Sara Stern, flute, Daniel Foster, viola, Lisa Emenheiser Logan, piano, directed by Christopher Kendall, Hirshorn Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C, November 8, 1997.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Reviews:

"…the simplicity of arpeggiated figures, viola trills and fluent melodies by the flute – coupled with Krouse’s sense of timing – produced an attractive framework for a highly evocative piece." Charles McCardell, THE WASHINGTON POST, November 10, 1997

"Thamar y Amnón developed striking colors in  a single, fast-paced 10-minute movement – a valuable addition to the repertoire for this seductive instrumental combination."]
Luca Sabbatini, CLASSICS TODAY, April, 2000.

“Following…was Ian Krouse’s contemporary “Thamar y Amnón”, inspired by Spanish poet Federico García Lorca’s vivid tone poem about the lurid story of rape and incest found in the biblical book of Second Samuel.  In an ironic twist, King David’s conniving son Amnón is represented by the lovely, com-hither voice of the flute.  Amnón’s half-sister, Thamar , whom he invites into his bed-room under the pretense that he is sick and needs food, is played by the viola.  Appropriately, the harp tells of the complexities and contradictions of King David.  For anyone who thinks music cannot be graphic the brilliant interactions of flutist Laura Gilbert, violist Mary Hammann, and harpist Stacey Shames easily dispelled such a belief.”Harold Duckett, OAK RIDGE TIMES. 

“Thamar y Amnónis a chamber tone poem based on a García Lorca ballad, which is in turn based on II Samuel in the Bible.  It’s largely gentle and certainly listenable.  It was written for the Debussy Trio, and naturally they play it beautifully.”

Donald R. Vroon, Editor in Chief, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/August, 2000

[In]“Thamar y Amnón,” inspired by Lorca’s retelling of the biblical story of the incestuous rape of King David’s daughter by her half-brother, scored for the same instruments as Debussy’s trio sonata, Krouse assigns the tortured Amnón to the flute, and the seductive Thamar to the viola, with the harp essentially given over to the horrified father of the pair, the famous harpist Kind David himself.  The Spanish ties are more integrated into the whole for what is a fully viable concert work.”

John Story, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/August, 2000

Program notes and performance history:

Thamar y Amnón (1991), was commissioned by the Los Angeles based Debussy Trio, which has since performed it many times throughout the United States.  It has also been performed by Christopher Kendall’s Twentieth Century Consort in a version with piano. Thamar y Amnón is a chamber tone poem based on one of García-Lorca’s Three Historical Ballads.  The Spanish poet’s paean to illicit eroticism, a transformation of the biblical story of the rape and humiliation of Tamar at the hands of her half-brother Amnón, is soaked with sexual imagery and symbolism, and often relies on richly evocative musical metaphors.  Not only the form and musical content are derived from the poem, but even the instrumentation itself.  Thus, the nervous athleticism and complexity of the flute melodies embody Amnón’s tortured struggles with lust, while Tamar’s thinly veiled seductiveness is given a lyric outlet through the potent vehicle of the viola.  The role of the harp is significantly more complex.  On a purely symbolic level, it represents one of antiquity’s most illustrious harpists, King David, the distraught father of the troubled protagonists, who, in the final lines of the poem "took his scissors and cut the strings of his harp," but, on a deeper level the harp is much more than this.  It is at once "moon-shaped zithers" and "waterless lands".  It is the singing of the "uncoiled cobra" and the whinnying of the "hundred horses of the king".  As both witness and catalyst to the tragedy, the harp is not merely the fiber of the work, but its very soul. In the biblical version of the story from Samuel II, Chapter 13, Amnón pretends to fall sick as a pretext for luring Tamar, his half-sister, to his room.  Despite her earnest protestations he takes her by force, and, overcome with sudden revulsion, expels her from the room, multiplying her shame.  Lorca’s transformation of this story is far more sympathetic to the "enraged violator", Amnón.   In the second stanza of the poem, the lines "Her nakedness on the eaves, due north of the palm, begs snowflakes on her belly and hailstones on her shoulders," suggest that Tamar, perhaps unwittingly, brings about her own fall.  In Lorca’s version, it seems as though Tamar comes to Amnón’s tower entirely of her own volition.  Although she says "Leave me in peace brother", her admonishments are strangely elliptical and ambiguous: "Your kisses on my shoulder are wasps and little winds in double swarm of flutes." In the end, fearful of the inevitable retribution, "Amnón flees upon his nag", while "All around Tamar virgin gypsies cry and others gather the drops from her martyred flower."

Text and Translation

 

xx  Tientos (flute, violin, viola, and cello) (1991) [23’]

Commissioned and premiered by Pacific Serenades, Mark Carlson, flute, Connie Kupka, violin, Michael Nowak, viola, and David Speltz, cello, Biltmore Hotel, conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer, Los Angeles, California, April 14, 1991.  Additional performances by 20th Century Consort, Christopher Kendall, director; Mexico City Chamber Orchestra, directed by Benjamín Juárez, others.

Semi-finalist Kennedy Center Freidheim Awards, 1991.

First recording by Dinosaur Annex, Sue-Ellen Hirshman-Tcherepnin, flute, Cyrus Stevens, violin, Anne Black, viola, Reimar Seidler, cello, ‘Ian Krouse’, Koch International Classics, Koch 3-7482-2 HI, released February 22, 2000.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Reviews:

"In Ian Krouse’s passionately melancholy "Tientos," flamenco music becomes the focal point of an attractive five-part fantasy for string trio and flute.  From its relentless  opening rhythmic ostinatos, to more sustained and contrapuntal sections, through an extended flute cadenza and then a recapitulation of the first part, the 22-minute work explores flamenco riffs and the melismatic improvisations of a flamenco singer.  The score also favors the darker, mystical mood of the folk style.  Krouse, a guitarist as well as composer, carefully blends the tonal Spanish idioms with Stravinskyan dissonances and harmonies.  The neoclassical, quasi minimalist result is pleasantly unpredictable as well as inventive, fresh and tightly organized." Gregg Wager, LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 17, 1991

"…Tientos explores the same improvisatory paths and energetic moods of the three previous pieces, even though somewhat softened by the mixing of flute and string trio.  All performers show a clear affinity for Krouse’s violent but seductive sound world…" Luca Sabbatini, CLASSICS TODAY, April, 2000

“Tientos” is highly charged, like the “Rhapsody,” but here Krouse adds the darker fury of Flamenco; violent spikes abound like the angry foot stomps of a dancer.  The opening outburst becomes an elegy of loss with occasional flare-ups of florid sobs from the flute.
Based on a haunting 16th century Spanish song, it finally throws its head up high, demanding dignity in its torment.  Our string trio and flute go full throttle with intense, blazing emotion…Careful – you might bet burned!”

Bill Stibor, Nebraska Public Radio, WET PAINT, CD of the Month, June, 2000

“Tientos” is for flute quartet (flute and strings).  It sounds Oriental – often the flute seems to be imitating a shakuhachi.  About 5 minutes in, it starts to sound Spanish, and the strings imitate a guitar.  The flute is the singer, and it sounds to me like flamenco.  Oddly enough, it ends up Sibelius – unmistakably so.  It was written in about three weeks (and it’s a 23-minute piece.  I am convinced that inspired music is written quickly.)  Tientos…is one of his most original works.”

Donald R. Vroon, Editor in Chief, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/August, 2000

Program notes and performance history:

Since its premiere in 1991, by California based Pacific Serenades, Tientos has been played numerous times by such groups as the 20th Century Consort of Washington, D.C., Dinosaur Annex of Boston, the USC New Music Ensemble, flutist Stephanie Jutt, and Marisa Canales with the Mexico City Chamber Orchestra.  It is part of a series of works that reflect my continuing preoccupation with the traditional music of Spain. Although the tiento is one of Spain’s earliest surviving forms, its meaning and social function have changed radically throughout the five hundred years of its existence.  The fifteenth century Spanish vihuelists used the term tento for pieces that, by virtue of their unspecified form and improvisatory nature, were like informal cousins to the more highly involved and more contrapuntally rigorous fantasia.  The form survives today not only as a medium for serious composers – often of works for the guitar – but, perhaps surprisingly, as a flamenco guitar form.  My Tientos reflects all of these influences, and many of the formal dynamics are derived from the inherent tensions resulting from the juxtaposition of such disparate languages.  I chose the unusual plural form of the word precisely for this reason:  my piece is not a tiento so much as it is about the tiento. In my earlier work Bulerías, a piece for guitar quartet also highly influenced by flamenco music, my principle concern was rhythm.  In Tientos, I chose to focus on the supercharged melismatic style of flamenco singing.  The instrumentation of flute and string trio may seem a far cry from the world of flamenco, but I hope something of the profound intensity of that highly complex vernacular idiom survives here. Tientos is essentially through-composed but, like many of my works, it contains a ‘found object,’ in this case a haunting 16th century villançico, "Con qué la lavaré."  Although hinted at in the opening measures of the work, it makes a late appearance in a recognizable, if somewhat surrealistic manner, during the wild presto section that culminates the first large group of the work.  In this first incarnation it is troped by the flute with darting melismas over a quiet, propulsive drone in the strings.  Later it appears in fragmentary fashion as the main idea of a brooding adagio section.  Near the end of the flute cadenza it is heard, once again in fragments,  but otherwise fully fleshed out in a 15th century setting by Juan del Encina, with the strings imitating the sound of a consort of viols.  At the very end of the work the song appears in the style of the opening bars of the work.  The text and my translation are as follows:

¿Con qué la lavaré          With what shall I wash
la flor de la mi cara?        the flower of my face
¿Con qué la lavaré          With what shall I was
que vivo mal penada?      away my sorrow?

Lavo me yo cuitada         I wash myself to take away
con ansias y dolores.       the anguish and sadness.
¿Con qué la lavaré          With what shall I wash
que vivo mal penada?      away my sorrow?

¿Con qué la lavaré          With what shall I wash
que vivo mal penada?      away my sorrow?
Lavan le las casadas        Married women wash
con agua de limones.       with lemon water.