Set II, for two violins, was commissioned and premiered by Emilia Ismael and Sergio Castro (pictured here) and is part of what has become a whole collection of small pieces—an opportunity to explore the delicate musical form of miniatures. The original group of six Bonsai Garden sets were written between 2009 and 2010, with each set of movements dedicated to a different instrumental combination.
Although there is no literal quotation from the music of Béla Bartók, certain rhythmic, melodic and harmonic turns in the second set acknowledge and evoke the music of the Hungarian composer and his Forty-four Duos for Violins. Continuing a quest for contrasts in each of these works, the piece makes use of a number of compositional ‘tricks’: a typical gesture from rock and roll for second violin in the second movement. Microtonal glissandi from the distance of a fifth which both violins play in the fifth movement. A traditional-sounding melody in the seventh movement is obscured by the dissonant counterpoint of the second violin. And the final movement goes slightly Baroque, in the style of a Purcell aria.