TWO PIECES FOR VIOLA
Commission: Ellen Rose, principal violist, Dallas Symphony
Premiere: Ellen Rose, viola; Southeastern Composer's League, Miami, FL, October 28, 1989
Duration: 12:30 minutes
Instrumentation: viola and piano
Two Pieces for Viola represents the study of a new and an old form. In James Gleick’s book Chaos, his discussion of turbulence –the predictable elements and yet sometime chaotic moments of the motion of water through a pipe or of wind currents in a tunnel, for example – seemed upon reflection to provide inspiration for musical form. “Nature oscillates within her prescribed limits. The attracting pull of four points creates basins of attractions. But each particle does not move independently – its motion depends very much on the motion of its neighbors – and in a smooth flow, the degrees of freedom can be few…. Nearby bits remain nearby or drift apart in a smooth linear way that produces neat lines in wind-tunnel pictures: Gleick describes motion through space. Music is sound-motion through space and time. X4-1=0 is the first piece in a series of study of forms inspired by Gleick’s book. Chaonne2 is a loose version of the traditional form of variations on a chord progression. Two interwoven chord progressions, one very traditional, the other a nontraditional progression, are exploited throughout the piece. In the tradition of chaconnes, it is purposefully virtuostic in style.
"Margaret Brouwer's 1989 'Two Pieces for Viola' was a delightful parody on romantic treatments of Baroque music; its outline is that of a dignified 18th-century chaconne, but it is filled with rhapsodic solos whose dissonance-laden climaxes boil over with manic ferocity." - James Wierzbicki, St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 1990