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About this Piece

Although Shade was commissioned as an encore, probably the only aspect it has in common with a traditional encore is its duration – it has the character of a much larger composition which has been radically compressed into its present three-minute dimensions, within which are four distinct “movements,” each of which unfolds a different kind of sonic and structural relationship between violin and piano, and in the course of which a wide range of color and expression is explored. In the first, the violin emerges repeatedly from the resonance of piano cluster-chords; in the second, the violin weaves a convoluted thread through a dense but delicate piano texture; in the third, the two instruments are constantly and rapidly exchanging roles in a sequence of brief encounters; and finally, in the fourth, violin and piano gradually withdraw to extremely high and extremely low regions respectively. The idea of one instrument being (in) the shade of the other is a constant feature, although from one moment to the next it might not always be clear which is which. Keeping me company during work on this piece was Hilary’s recording of the Violin Concerto by Arnold Schoenberg, whose own “shade” appears at the very end, in the form of a somewhat oblique reference to his monodrama Erwartung.