for violin and guitar(2016)
|Commission||Commissioned by Becky and David Starobin|
|Premiere||April 12, 2017; Los Angeles, California; Schoenberg Festival at the Jan Popper Theater, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music; Movses Pogossian, violin; David Starobin, guitar|
In August 2016 I composed Three Bagatelles, for violin and guitar, as a congenial break from larger and more arduous projects. It was commissioned by Becky and David Starobin in connection with the premiere, in April 2017 at the University of California at Los Angeles, of a documentary film about Schoenberg’s String Trio.
The work is approximately nine minutes long. Each movement is in ABA form. In the first bagatelle, the violin spins expressive phrases against an insistent guitar accompaniment. In its middle section, unobtrusive quotations appear from the two Schoenberg pieces that influenced me the most, the Second String Quartet (for its harmonic and voice leading syntax) and the String Trio (for its string writing and innovative form). Roles reverse in the slower second bagatelle, with a lyrical diatonic melody in the guitar supported by a chromatic double-stop pattern in the violin. In the fast third bagatelle, the two instruments assume equal roles as they toss motivic fragments back and forth in the course of a mock sonatina.
The greatest challenge in composing this piece was to confront the acoustic guitar, an instrument for which I had never written. In the end, the confrontation turned into a source of inspiration. Three Bagatelles is dedicated to Becky and David Starobin in admiration and friendship.
– Fred Lerdahl