Two Fauvist Miniatures
For Violin, Bass Clarinet and Piano
Duration: 3 mins approx.
I was first taken to the Courtauld Gallery by my wife almost four years ago, and it has remained one of our favourite haunts in London. Of all the gallery's beautiful rooms, I have always been especially captivated by its collection of Fauvist paintings, and by Henri Matisse's work The Red Beach in particular.
The Fauves ('Wild Beasts'), as critics referred to them, were a group of painters that included Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck, who, during the early years of the 20th Century, often explored the use of colours applied directly from the tube in vivid and energetic canvases.
Structured in two very short movements, my own piece Wild Beasts! is a musical response to the Fauvist approach, mirroring the painters' short, rapid brushstrokes with fast-moving staccato passages of music that are almost toccata-like in nature. Responding to Matisse's view that 'One note is simply a colour. Two notes make a chord, and life', the second movement focuses for the most part on two-part writing, whilst the constant use of seven note modes, refers to the artist's opinion that 'Seven notes, with the slightest of variations, are enough to call for the most glorious of creations'. I certainly do not claim to have achieved such a 'creation' here, but I do hope that these 'Two Fauvist Miniatures' capture something of the spirit and energy of the paintings!
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