A Bonsai Garden, Set VI

Duo (2010)
Violin and Guitar

I. Poco lento
II. Andante
III. Brutto
IV. In memoriam Jorge Lederman – Adagio, molto mesto
V. Leggiero
VI. Maestoso
VII. Non troppo allegro
VIII. Adiós a la Musa – Mesto

Dedicated to Emilia Ismael and Elena Tovar. Commercial recording: “A Bonsai Garden – Brian Banks” by the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, 2012.

Score Sample

SoundCloud Sample Tracks

Duration: c. 13 minutes

Set VI is the last in a collection of small pieces that presented 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.

This set serves as the large-scale conclusion of Sets I through VI  It revisits the simplicity found in Sets I through IV. The heterophony of the seventh movement recalls Set V. One also hears other relationships: the repeated tones of the first movement suggest the set for clarinet and marimba, and the sixth movement, with its Maestoso tempo indication, those Sets II and III.

But Set VI isn’t merely recollection of the previous five sets. The third movement, marked Brutto, unleashes an intentional ugliness between the violin and guitar. This discourse, pointillistic and out of alignment, is followed by a movement of conscious lyric beauty, where both instruments delight in their absolutely idiomatic melodic material. The fourth movement is dedicated to the memory of Jorge Liderman (1957-2008), and is an arrangement of the Sephardic song “Avre tu puerta serrada,” a melody which was also used by the Argen- tine composer in one of his Aires de Sefarad, 46 Songs for Violin and Guitar. In the sixth movement the guitarist experiments with tuning, continuing to play while lowering the tuning of the sixth string from E down to D.

Set VI ends with the eight movement subtitled “Adiós a la Musa,” a paraphrase of the Sarabande from J.S. Bach’s Lute Suite BWV 997—ultimately pointing to the miniatures of György Kurtág and his recording Játékok (Games) where the Kurtág alternates several of his piano miniatures with short transcriptions from J.S. Bach.