The three-movement Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano was completed by the summer of 2007. However, the first movement had already been written during December, 2006. It was premiered on January 6, 2007, at the Music Hall, at California State University, Los Angeles, by Eulis Kay (clarinet), Varujan Nalbandian (violin), and Shanon Tran (piano).
Each movement may be performed separately, in which case its individual title should be used.
I. Homeland from Far AwayII. Across the Rocky MountainsIII. Dance
The total duration is approximately 17 minutes.
Homeland from Far Away, the first movement, opens up with a piano introduction, proceeding what seems to be the theme or two short themes, made of tuneful melodies. Then the material from both introduction and the themes is developed in an improvisatory style, exploring various folk modes and, particularly the octatonic scale with certain omitted tones. A wistful, slow melody emerges from the development and leads the music to a variation of the theme and a violin cadenza, after which the movement ends with a forceful chordal echo of the introduction motive.
The clarinet begins the opening theme, which is immediately passed on to the other instruments for development:
A mode that contains the minor third step, common in East-European and Oriental folk music, is generously used throughout the work, but its imposing authority is often obscured by the introduction of outsider tones. Since traditional harmonic principles are largely discarded, contrapuntal developments, syncopated rhythms and active dynamic contrasts are more emphasized. The distinct 6/8 rhythm, common in Armenian folk music, is ever present, occasionally alternating with other compound meters, such as 9/8 and 7/8. In many instances the rhythmic drive is enforced by the percussive sound of violin pizzicato or accented piano passages played in octaves.
The violin cadenza is essentially a development of the proceeding ideas:
Watch Keith Redpath's performance of the violin cadenza (at 1:25).
Across the Rocky Mountains is a slow, meditative piece that lends its initial melody to a series of variations and development. This ornamental movement eventually leads to a clarinet cadenza, which, like the violin cadenza, sums up the movement. The same minor-third scale, which adds the lingering aroma of exoticism to the music, is often handled by dissonant chords in the piano accompaniment, insuring the freshness of the statements.
A portion of the clarinet cadenza, quoted below, illustrates some of the vocal characteristics of Armenian folk-song by the appropriate use of trills, grace-notes, triplets and dotted figures:
Watch Doug Storey's performance of the clarinet cadenza (at 4:15).
Dance is a lively dance movement in 6/8 with a slow, lyrical middle section. It occasionally quotes elements from the first movement and builds its development based on those and the initial dance theme.
Avant-garde compositional devices - such as the massive piano tone-cluster on measure 50 - furnish the movement, while affectionate and engaging melodies characterize the work. It is just as suited for a summery of the trio as it is for an independent piece, with each instrument equally prominent.
NOTE: If you would like to perform this work in concert, the composer may be available to give an opening speech. He has been enjoying the ongoing collaborations with musicians across the globe, in the framework of Musical Tribute To Scientists program, and he would be pleased to consider more collaborations. Please, contact him to inquire.