3 Pieces for Violin and Piano was composed in the fall of 1997 for Duo Concertante,
with assistance from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, and substantially revised in late 2004.
The first piece (Old Friends) begins with both players playing a rhythmically-challenging melodic line in unison. This theme returns several times in varied form, and is also developed. The character is extremely nervous to start, but the pulse gradually becomes more regular as the movement unfolds, leading to version of the opening theme over a “walking-bass” at the end. There are periodic allusions to Bebop jazz.
The second piece (Slow Dance, Interrupted) is extremely short, with a languid, “late-night” feeling; its ending is very open and inconclusive, and leads to the final piece.
The most obviously jazz-influenced of the “3 Pieces…” is the last one (Walking the Dog), which features an almost incessant "walking bass" line in the piano. The climax of this third piece is a virtuosic piano solo that verges on the chaotic. A common practice in jazz concerts is to acknowledge musicians' virtuosity by applauding following their solos, and the end of the piano solo certainly lends itself to this treatment. When the piano returns to its steady walking bass, I put in a high, sustained violin double stop whose main purpose is to allow audiences to applaud should they choose to do so. Classical music audiences, of course, know full well that one ought not to applaud in the middle of a work, so this cheap attempt on my part to elicit "spontaneous" applause virtually never works. As far as I am aware, the only time that this ploy was actually successful was when a claque of boisterous friends and I began the applause, and a smattering of audience members, confused no doubt by this unorthodox behaviour, gradually joined in, reluctantly but politely.
Each of the 3 Pieces… is based on the same 12-tone row.
©Clark Winslow Ross