When I was in my early twenties, I took a three-month hike across France and Spain. Passing through
this environment, slowly, I was often awed by the monumentality of empty landscape. Although I was
a part of it, tiny, in motion, it was untouched by my moving, unmoved by my exertions; the landscape
existed around me, doing what it would do regardless, watching me experiencing it. Hours passed, the
sun would move in the sky, I would move forward, the land remained. Thomas Wolfe wrote, in a passage
I set in Evening Prayer, a 1995 work
for soprano and ensemble that "we are living, hoping, fearing, loving, dying in the darkness while
the great stars shine upon us as they have shone on all men, dead and living, on this earth."
Starting with that work, I wanted to somehow illustrate this idea in music, creating pieces that placed
a soloist within an instrumental environment: one that freely moved through the entirety of pitch space,
was rhythmically active, harmonically rich, and suffused with a present, though not marked beat. Sometimes,
as in the conclusion of this piece, I created an entire environment from a melody, other times, I developed
my environments more freely.
Slow Movement for cello and piano began its life as a three movement Sonata composed in the late summer
and early fall of 1997. I began with a freely invented and enormously rangy 'hymn', and created an
environment built on it and a memory of it. The work begins by pulling an earthy, lyrical melody from the
air and ends with that same hymn, unadorned, sounding in a resonant cosmos. It was revised, and its middle
movement discarded in 2008.
Andrea Yun, cello
Molly Morkowski, piano
13 August 1998
Harris Concert Hall