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Placing the Feather

for cello

Year:  2003   ·  Duration:  15m 30s

Year:  2003
Duration:  15m 30s

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Stephen Ralph Matthews: Pla...

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The title of this piece is a metaphor for the fragility of trust and human relationships. The simple act of placing a found or chosen object somewhere special has significance. It requires forethought, delicacy of movement and great care and yet, in the end, the object – in this case, a feather, remains vulnerable; it is a slight, graceful object that can easily be broken or blown away.

In the opening few bars, a three note motif can be heard in the cello part. This is the work’s central motif from which much of the thematic material is derived. The second movement, which employs Latin rhythms, is abruptly interrupted at its most subdued point by three discordant piano chords in the lower register, signaling the start of the third movement. This movement features driving syncopated rhythms and an angular melodic theme. The fourth movement begins with a contemplative cello cadenza, the cello eventually shifting the mood towards an energetic and unrelenting drive to the finish.

Commissioned note

Commissioned by James Tennant and Katherine Austin

Dedication note

Dedicated to James Tennant and Katherine Austin

Contents note

I. Molto Allegro
II. Allegretto
III. Molto Allegro
IV: Adagio (Cello Cadenza), Vivo

Performance history

22 Oct 2003: Performed by James Tennant and Katherine Austin at Gallagher Concert Chamber, Hamilton