Composition

 

Dart Public

Dart was written for the New York cellist Madeleine Shapiro as part of Earth Day 2012 celebrations and her ongoing Nature Project; this is one of a series of compositions that explore issues of water conservation.

The piece takes its ideas and musical imagery from the River Dart that rises in Dartmoor, Devon, in England.

The Dart is a river that rises on Dartmoor in Devon, England.

The opening to the novel by Eden Phillpotts The River (1902) captures some of the Dart’s qualities:

“FROM the rapt loneliness of her cradle, from her secret fountains, where the red sundew glimmers and cotton grasses wave unseen. Dart comes wandering southward with a song. Her pools and silent places mirror the dawn; noontide sunshine glitters along the granite aprons of her thousandfalls; the wind catches her volume leaping downward, and flings it aloft into rainbows by day and moonlit veils by night. Beneath the echoing hills she passes, under the grey rain or silver mist she takes her most musical course; and presently, the richer by many a little sister river, grows into adult beauty of being, swells to the noblest stream in all the West Country, descends from her high places and winds, full fraught with mystery and loveliness, into the lives of men… 

…ever rolling, ever changing, the river strays; and the nature of mankind is reflected in her many moods, in her peaceful and sunlit summer-time, in her autumn torrents and winter darkness banked with snow. ”

Dart is in two distinct parts that explore the depth of color, resonance and musical quality within the cello. The cello throughout is supported and is in dialogue with an electroacoustic playback that is composed from recordings made of the River Dart or the cello itself. The shifting of levels: dynamic, register, quality and tempo are part of the integral journey the work takes through season and landscape, but always united by a consistent line of musical material varied and reinvented. The opening bursts forth with running torrents of sound, while Part II begins ‘in spate’: tight, bubbling and rhythmic; the work ends in a mature, reflective place.

Available on Albany Records TROY1577, Sounds Nature Cellist Madeleine Shapiro

Composition for cello and max/msp

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Duration
  • 15
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