Score and parts. Each movement is a separate file.
I. There are a thousand ways
The trio draws inspiration from the composer’s own inner journey and various cultural sources as he blends classical form, clocklike repetition, tango rhythms, and fiddle tunes.
Part of the Navona Records album "A Grand Journey", Release Date: September 10, 2021, Catalog #: NV6367, Format: Digital
Does a composition need to be programmatic to communicate feelings and ideas? Is there any message in an abstract piece? Where do we get our inspiration, what are our motivations? The answers are always bound to be somewhat subjective and incomplete, especially when we reflect upon a piece that is finished. In some way, when attempting to discuss our music, we re-experience the creative process, although not to the same degree of intensity as during the very act of composing.
With the piano trio entitled “The Journey” the music came first. The titles of each movement attempt to bring a hint of the ideas, emotions, and thoughts that I experienced and expressed through the music, hoping that the sounds will communicate a lot more. As I underwent an emotional journey simultaneous with the compositional process, so did the three movements express that. Darkness, stillness, then tumult followed by exhilarating dancing.
As a founding member of Trio Casals, I wanted to write a multi-movement piece for the group, following my previous short trio entitled “The Awkward Dance of the Romanian Mechanical Doll.” A few sketches for a fast movement were done in 2018, but a burst of creativity during a week-long visit in California in March 2020 allowed me to complete what was to become the first movement. It was the beginning of the Covid - 19 pandemic, pre-self-quarantine, pre-mask mandates and recommendations, with a lot of unknowns and misleading information from the government. At the same time, I was struggling with a number of challenges in my personal life.
1. There are a Thousand Ways
I wanted each movement to be represented by a god from the Roman or Greek mythology. But I couldn’t find any match between the complexity of emotions and the wide-ranging esthetic references in this movement on one hand, and any character represented by such a God on the other hand. And then I returned to Rumi‘s poetry. The title is drawn out of the verse” There are a thousand ways to go home again” and hints to my journey and to the many ideas expressed in this movement.
I had not used the sonata form before, and for this movement I needed a well proven structure to adequately develop the musical drama. Certain darkness permeates large sections of the piece. The first theme is like a garden of ivy, weaving textures and voices, like a web of emotions. The second thematic group starts with the cello digging into dissonant intervals, perhaps just an expression of a repeated primal scream, followed by a mysterious melody that could have come out of the Siberian tundra, in the winter. As I was completing the exposition, I had a phone conversation with noted composer Hilary Tann, in which we discussed the use of the sonata form, Haydn, and his impact on the crystallization of the sonata form. Tann had just explored the use of the sonata form for the first time as well. At the end of the conversation Hilary said: “and don’t forget humor, Haydn used a lot of humor.” So, I decided to use a tango for the development. And, boy, was it fun. The recapitulation is condensed, and not only that the thematic conflict is resolved - there is no more primal scream present, but clearly the tension has abated.
The title should tell you all. Chronos is the personification of time in Greek mythology. The tempo of the piece is 60 bpm, like the clock ticking the seconds, and the repeated notes in the piano and pizzicato strings are like a clock that keeps track of eternity. But there is much more in this movement and for a brief second be expected to be taken to a place of nostalgia and emotion.
Mercury is a major god in Roman religion and mythology, and one of the 12 most important deities within the ancient Roman pantheon. Among other qualities, he is the god of commerce, eloquence, messages, luck, and trickery. Listen to distant knocking, screeching, and eerie sounds that bring an ominous feel to the movement, but this limping dance is short-lived as it evolves into fiddling tunes. First, La Belle Catherine, from Quebec, which according to Danse ce Soir is based on a Scottish tune: The Braes of Mar, followed by a traditional Irish tune: The Blue Eyed Rascal. An errand quote from Beethoven is perhaps Mercury‘s way of sticking his nose in my business.