Written for the Continuum Ensemble of Toronto for the first concert of their 2006-07 season in October 2006, this piece appeared in the program along with Music to Boil an Egg By for bass clarinet, piano, triangle and narrator. The concert had a “remix” theme- composer John Oswald was invited to remix the other pieces appearing on the program in his own way. I decided to follow this concert theme and largely based this Elegy on material from Music to Boil an Egg By. During composition my thoughts turned to the daily headlines of war, hardship and loss in various parts of the globe; the flavour of the piece reflects this, as does its title.
While no Lyric Suite, this is my most ambitious composition to date, combining multiple musical cultures dating over the past 1,000 years. It is dedicated to my wife, Shayna. The first movement owes something to the world of Janacek, and is even based upon a Czech folk tune (which one hears partially disguised at one point).
The second (no jokes about “La Quesadilla,” please), is based upon music I have heard played by South Mexican street bands. A simple melody becomes more fragmented until it distorts into this nightmarish scherzo.
Talencourt starts with direct transcription of a Quebecois folk melody as originally played in the 1920s by “Villeneuve and Bouchard” a violin and accordion duo – later released on the 1985 album You Can Tell the World About This (Morning Star Records). It is then given short variation treatment in the styles of Bartók, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninov, in that order. The rest of the work is a mirror image of itself right back to the very beginning.
The fourth movement only lasts around a minute, and is a setting of the medieval melody (anonymously written) of the same name.
Mache Dich Mein Geist Bereit is a setting of a chorale melody, in quickly contrasting alternating sections of a March and a “Pseudo-Adagio” (which is at the same speed as the march, but the notes are obviously held much longer). Mahler probably would have hated this piece, but I don’t care, I will always love Mahler’s music.
Shir Ha-Shirim is a toccata-like distortion of a medieval Jewish setting of a text from the Song of Songs, III / 1, “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loved; I sought him, but I found him not.” The Song of Songs is a love-song from God to Israel and vice-versa and it is read at Passover. After a short reprise of Hore Cerny the melody returns to the toccata, thereafter quietly dispersing.
In this work, the first movement uses two Basque melodies (one of which is a Basque lullaby whose text contains only Basque nonsense words) for the first group and a “Bulgarianized” version of a Hungarian folk melody for the second in this short sonata form. The second movement is an arrangement of a 14th century melody by Guillaume de Machault, and the last owes something to Scandinavian folk music (the obscure title refers to a favorite Finnish dill-infused salad dressing that I like to make on occasion).
Music for Viola and Piano is dedicated to Rudolf Haken, Rachel Jensen, and my counterpoint teacher, Jack Melby.
This piece is inspired by the day of a private function I played at in Wake Road, Coatesville, north-west of Auckland. Needless to say it was a rainy day – but at times the rain abated; at times it grew more intense than before; at times it only served to illuminate the natural beauty of the scenery up in that area of Auckland. In this piece, I have tried to capture all of this. The more ‘flowing’ aspects of the piece were intended to capture the sometimes cathartic nature of rain, and the occasionally abrupt changes in feel, texture and tonality were inspired by the abrupt changes in weather that we in Auckland often experience!