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Ten Miniatures

Instrumentation: chromatic kantele (zither)
Duration: 12:00
Year Composed: 2017
Commissioner: Hedi Viisma, with the support of Queen's University.
  1. Dreamily, freely
  2. Moderato, quasi alla marcia
  3. Freely flowing, amabile e molto espressivo
  4. Maestoso
  5. Canon a 2: Allegro vivo
  6. Imitative duo: Cantabile
  7. Allegro energico
  8. Waltz: Comodo
  9. Fughetta a 3: Allegro vivo
  10. Ripples: Dreamily

Dedicated to Hedi Viisma.


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Program Notes

When I first heard the Estonian musician Hedi Viisma play the chromatic kantele I was immediately taken by the instrument's many exquisite attributes: the clarity across its entire compass, the purity of its tone, the deep resonance in its bass, and its remarkable agility. I was especially intrigued by its capacity to project multiple voices simultaneously, like a keyboard instrument, a feature that Ms. Viisma's performances of Bach's D minor Chaconne and the Goldberg Variations demonstrate so vividly. As it happens, what drew Ms. Viisma to my work is its rootedness in counterpoint. So when she commissioned me to write a piece for her, I naturally responded with music that foregrounds the instrument's polyphonic potential. Several miniatures focus overtly on traditional contrapuntal processes: canon (No. 5); imitative duo (No. 6); fughetta (No. 9). Others showcase the kantele's magnificent resonance in harmonic realms ranging from diatonic (No. 3) to chromatic (Nos. 1, 10)—or somewhere in-between (No. 4). There are a few outliers. The energetic No. 7, the longest, demands nimbleness. The crunchy No. 2 presses the instrument to its chromatic limits. And a quirky waltz (No. 8) alludes to the kantele's folk heritage.

—R.R.


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For score perusal and parts rental information, contact Robert Rival.