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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

Trio (1960)
commissioned by the Mabillon Trio
Chester Music Ltd
Works for 2-6 Players
Year Composed
10 Minutes

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Programme Note
Thea Musgrave Trio (1960)
The general question facing the composer was how to balance these dissimilar instruments. The piano on the one hand - the two wind on the other - without resorting to the obvious and unsatisfactory solution of writing two melodic lines plus an accompaniment. But rather, how to find a texture where the three instruments would be on equal terms.

A general structure was evolved so that the different kinds of balance between the instruments could be explored.

First, there is a main section, where the instruments are fairly evenly matched. This section played altogether four times, though each time it returns it is slightly varied.

Interweaving this main section come three episodes which are all different. In the first episode there are two cadenzas, one for the wind, one for the piano. (The wind cadenza makes use of the fact that there are three possible colours; flute solo, oboe solo, and then flute and oboe playing in unison).

In the second episode, wind and piano play extremely contrasting material in quick alternation.

Finally in the third episode, the three instruments are balanced in the closest possible way. That is, a quick canon.

The work is quite short and all these sections are played without any break - but each one is heralded by a single soft chord on the piano - a kind of punctuation mark.

Thea Musgrave

  • Soloist(s)
    Nicholas Daniel, The Chilingirian Quartet, Joy Farrall, Emer McDonough, James Turnbull, Huw Watkins
    Harmonia Mundi:
  • 05 MAR 2007
    University of Hertfordshire, Hertford
    John Anderson, oboe; Helen Crayford, piano, Nancy Ruffer, flute
  • 08 JAN 1961
    Trio World Premiere
    Arts Council, London, UK
    Mabillon Trio

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