A new setting of the Canadian composer’s “Four Elements” was given its world premiere on April 23rd, 2014 at the Kendall Campus of Miami Dade College. Originally scored for violin and trombone, the work was re-imagined by the composer at the behest of the Brubeck-Neal Duo. Drawing on the inspiration of ancient civilizations who viewed the four elements of water, earth, air, and fire (as well as sometimes the void), as the basis of all matter, the composer first scored the piece for violin and trombone in 1985.
Water begins in a liquid manner, with contrasting rubato, subdivisions and “fermati” before the tempo sets in. Earth is up-tempo, and flecked with blues and jazz references in a swinging feel bolstered by a setting of 12-8. Air is a delightfully spacious piece, where the parts often alternate, and the slower tempo reveals the full subtleties of the Harmon mutes (stem-in), employed by the composer. The concluding Fire is an evocative, speedy romp through mixed meters with intervals that leap like flames, and a burning crescendo in the finale which evokes the image of all-consuming conflagration.
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