DUO (2013) - For Violin and Piano
For Violin and Piano
Composed for, and dedicated to, Xiang Yu and Mei Rui
Sadly, I cannot say that I am bilingual. My native tongue is English, and while I studied both French and Chinese for a number of years and have a love of both languages, I am not fluent in either. An invitation to compose a new work for violinist Xiang Yu and pianist Mei Rui for their debut recital at the Louvre Museum in Paris reignited my love of these languages, and inspired me to attempt a bilingual musical pun of sorts. DUO takes inspiration from the English word “duo,” imagining a virtuoso dialogue between two characters of equal importance, but also references four different meanings of the word “duo” in Chinese, corresponding to each of the four tones that are used in the language. Duō (first tone) means “much” or “a lot”; duó (second tone) means “to win someone’s heart”; duǒ (third tone) means to “hide” or “evade”; and duò (fourth tone) means to “chop” or “stomp.”
Each of these meanings inspires the conversation between the violin and piano in my work. I think of each instrument as embodying a unique personality and musical theme, trying to “win” the other’s heart. Over the course of the piece the two players exchange ideas and by the end they have reversed roles, adopting the other’s themes, only to quickly return to their original places by the final measures. The middle section evokes the energy of a chase, where each player tries to “catch” the other, who are always just out of reach. The piece highlights both players’ virtuosity and as a result contains lots of notes and a heightened level of expressivity. And if you listen carefully, you may hear some “stomping” in the piece, as the duo’s chase winds to a close.
DUO was composed for, and is dedicated to, violinist Xiang Yu and pianist Mei Rui.