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Helen Grime

Publisher: Chester Music

To see the summer sky (2009)
Commissioned for a Philharmonia Music of Today portrait concert
Work Notes
Commissioned for a Philharmonia Music of Today portrait.
Chester Music Ltd
Works for 2-6 Players
Year Composed
12 Minutes

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Programme Note
Helen Grime To see the summer sky (2009)
To see the summer sky for Violin and Viola falls into four movements. The first movement opens with the two instruments sounding almost as one playing very high, glassy harmonics. Gradually, an expressive viola solo emerges, with both instruments descending to their lower ranges. A livelier quasi scherzando solo for violin accompanied by viola pedal notes leads to a chorale like passage, the violin at the top of its range, whilst the viola is at its lowest. The movement ends with the two instruments coming together once again on a unison Bb and fades away almost as it has begun, but this time in the husky lower registers.

The second movement is much faster and opens with a downward flurry for both instruments. A continuous pizzicato line for viola is interrupted by more violent passages in the violin. The two instruments come together in a dance-like passage before the roles are reversed. Finally an ecstatic melody surfaces in the viola and is later continued in the violin before the movement closes with the spiky figures of its opening, the two instruments ending in unison.

The third movement encompasses is the most delicate and still music of the piece. After a very tranquil opening, an expressive violin melody is accompanied by a gentle rocking figure in the viola. Tentative at first, intensity and speed gather until the violin reaches stratospheric heights. Both of the instruments play at the extremes of their registers before moving to common ground for a more lively textural passage. This is followed by a passionate reminder of the movement’s opening, gradually fading away to nothing.

The piece ends with a Moto Perpetuo. The instruments begin by dovetailing a single line which develops into two strands before a more violent section appears, punctuated by strident double stops. Both instruments have slightly manic solo episodes before the movement quickly dies away in the single line of its opening.

Sample Pages

...a set of vignettes playing for about 13 minutes that are in-flight, active, interactive and with a reflective intensity that is haunting, a harmonic bond created between the two instruments, here in the excellent and collegiate hands of Maya Iwabuchi and Rachel Roberts.
Colin Anderson, Classical Source,01/01/2010
This four-movement duo has something in ­common with the nature-inspired music of the early 20th-century English pastoralists, though not in a ­derivative way. Its alternatively ­delicate and thrusting imagery, and subtly ­referenced tonal bearings give it a free-flying immediacy that is as ­pleasing as its ­understated ­sophistication.
George Hall, The Guardian,01/01/2010
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