Three Shades Without Angles
for flute, viola and harp(2013)
|Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
|February 9, 2014; Jordan Hall, Boston, MA; Boston Symphony Chamber Players
Three Shades Without Angles is a piece that plays with the idea of transformation of musical shapes. All material in the piece is derived from a single idea or motive whose shape changes as the piece unfolds. This motive is tightly coiled in the beginning of the piece, disposed in closely related and concentrated iterations in the three instruments. At the midpoint of the piece, the material relaxes and is disposed melodically in the flute and viola, while the harp lays a harmonic groundwork that has also been informed by the intervallic shapes of the horizontal motive pervading the entire piece. Although the texture that began the piece returns, the unfurling that happened at the piece’s center never retracts, but rather we hear spaciousness, melodiousness within a busy musical texture. The harp’s figuration slows at the end of the piece, and the harp and viola sustain their final pitches, an A-flat and a G.
When writing this piece, I was inspired by Rodin’s sculpture The Three Shades, a detail sitting atop the sculptor’s work The Gates of Hell, depicting a scene from Dante’s The Inferno. Although my music is not representative or depictive of Dante or an image of hell, I was deeply drawn to the sinewy character of Rodin’s work, its intensity, muscularity, consistency, and the way in which movement and energy is represented in his shapes.
- Hannah Lash