J.S. Bach has been speaking to me since before I was born. From my father playing the cello suites throughout childhood, to my renewed interest in period performance upon hearing baroque violinist Lucia Giraudo, Johann’s whisperings were no longer avoidable: “…write a piece for baroque violin…” Those words may have actually come from Lucia, but regardless, the intention was set. When I began exploring Norwegian folk music, the similarities between the two styles struck me in their use of ornamentation, vibrato, and unequal temperament, which led to the creation of this work.
In composing LYS-SLÅTT, I sought foremost to meld the poignant intonation and gestures of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle tradition with elements of baroque string writing. I drew inspiration from J.S. Bach’s astute writing for the violin in his solo sonatas and partitas, from the early Italian baroque habit of creating form through an alternation of contrasting sections, and from the unique physical differences between a baroque violin and a modern one. The darker, richer gut strings are naturally well-suited to harmonics; a shorter, lighter bow prefers frequent articulation and allows for virtuosic right-hand speed; and a lower bridge is more conducive to double-stops. Aiming to draw on the strengths of the early music performer who is trained to perform in unequal temperaments, I expanded the intonation of folk music from the Telemark region into microtonal harmonies which permeate the piece. My own love of color, pulse, and rhythmic play found its way into the piece as well.
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