The Abandoned Valley (2012)
Commission: Adrianna Mateo
Premiere: Adrianna Mateo on July 4, 2012 at Societa Operaia di Mutuo Soccorso "G.C. Abba" in Cairo Montenotte, Italy
The Abandoned Valley is inspired by Saint Saens’ Fantaisie for violin and harp. Like a fantasy, structural and melodic properties are intended to sound as though the player is improvising them. In this case, the language freely combines elements of neo-romantic lyricism, classical motivic development, post-minimalist sonorities, drone and folk music.
The title of the piece comes from Jack Gilbert’s poem of the same name. While the piece is not programmatic, it is intended as a reflection on loneliness and the psychological or behavioral potential that one might have in isolation. Irregular meters and polyrhythms contribute to its wandering nature, while recurring similar melodic themes are developed with purpose.
Alternate tuning is used on the two lowest strings, thereby expanding the range of the instrument as if it were a violin/viola hybrid, for a rich and somber effect. The open strings are utilized in throughout as a drone to support the melody, and to achieve a new collection of natural harmonics.