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Helen Grime

Publisher: Chester Music

Seven Pierrot Miniatures (2010)
Commissioned by the Hebrides Ensemble and first performed on their Scottish tour in March 2010.
Work Notes
Commissioned by the Hebrides Ensemble
Chester Music Ltd
Works for 2-6 Players
Sub Category
Pierrot Ensemble (no voice)
Year Composed
12 Minutes

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Programme Note
Helen Grime Seven Pierrot Miniatures (2010)
In Seven Pierrot Miniatures, I took the Commedia d’elle Arte character, Pierrot, as my primary source of inspiration. Other, more tenuous, links to Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire also served as a starting point in forming the general shape of the work. The piece is cast in seven short movements whereas the Schoenberg is in three sets of seven movements. Although there is no part for voice, I have taken seven poems by Albert Giraud (none of them set in Pierrot Lunaire) as points of departure:

1. The Clouds
2. Decor
3. Absinthe
4. Suicide
5. The Church
6. Sunset
7. The Harp

Each movement takes its impetus from the corresponding poem, but in the piece as a whole, I wanted to explore the extreme contrasts of the multi-faceted character of Pierrot in a musical setting. There is an almost mirror-like quality to the form of the piece and a sense of ending where it has begun: movements 1, 3, 5 and 7 are closely linked, both in terms of their musical material and a sense of melancholy, dream-like quality and longing. Movements 2 and 6 are also strongly connected, with allusions to the more mischievous, violent side of Pierrot. Movement 4 serves as a sort of pivot point within the work, juxtaposing a surreal, shimmering calm with brutal outbursts. There is never any direct repetition, yet there is a strong sense of material returning and mutating as the work unfolds.

Sample Pages

...a series of near-aphoristic miniatures...demonstrating the quintessence of Grime's distinctive art: her ability to condense an enormous amount of music into a very small space yet characterise it by translucenece of texture, with clarity of thought and expression.
Michael Tumelty, Herald Scotland,25/11/2010
Among them, Helen Grime's specially-commissioned Seven Pierrot Miniatures received a flamboyant premiere. In a well-defined sound world – as exhilarating as Schoenberg's, but with its own distinctive identity – Grime applies translucent precision to this mixed ensemble with impressive sensitivity to its colours. The composer based her succinct suite on seven of the Pierrot poems by Giraud (none of which are used by Schoenberg), capturing that sensual mix of melancholy, ecstasy and beauty with perspicacity and stylistic consistency. Will Conway's Hebrides Ensemble imbued it with an intense theatrical dimension that brought it alive
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman,01/03/2010
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