i. Allegro appassionato
ii. Adagio molto, calmo e mesto
iii. Vivace scherzando e capriccioso, sempre soot voce
I had the first idea for this piece on an Italian holiday in August 1982- near the bus station at Bergamo, I think. It’s the one heard in double octaves on violin and cello, just after the explosive outburst which begins the movement; and it recurs many times in many forms throughout. When this theme is worked out for the first time, it is followed by a solo violin; then one for the cello. There are then a series of three lyrical duet passages, each more expansive than the last, each with percussive interruptions in sixths on the piano, which boil over into the central climax of the movement. The recapitulation is mostly calm and spare. The order of the solos is reversed: cello first, then violin, and a shortened transformation of the duet passages, before a last couple of appearances of the explosive opening: the first in its original character, the second ghostly. The bus station idea almost turns into an ostinato before it fades away.
The slow movement is simply ternary. The opening tune, with its falling sixth, is heard on the highest register of the violin: then solos for violin and cello soon turn into a sustained duet. The piano begins the middle sector, which should move along in more easily lyrical character without changing tempo. Its climax is plunged into tremolando sul, ponticello playing, which has a climax of its own, then dissolves back into the return – the piano has the tune this time. Cello then violin solo turn once more into a sustained duet. The piano apparently tries to start the middle section again, but after a brief passage for the strings alone, the music rises to the highest register in which it began.
The final is meant to be a sort of moto perpetuo in rondo form, to be played sotto voce until late on in the movement. I love those Haydn op 20 finales which do this, but I couldn’t keep mine quite long enough. This subsidiary sections of the rondo are: a violin passage, then a cello passage, accompanied by cluster chords. When these two instruments play this passage as a duet the music gets loud for the first time, and it is near the end.
The work was finished Easter Sunday 1984. It is dedicated to the ensemble which are to give its first performance: Maroug Parikian, Armaryllis Fleming and Bernard Roberts.