Beyond the Sequestered Grove is simply the second movement (Cadenza lenta) extracted from Zachary Cairns' Concert(in)o for Marimba & Wind Quintet. It is largely an introspective work, but there is plenty of understated, undulating urgency to showcase the marimbist's nimble hands.
Genre: Marimba (4-mallet) | # of Players:
Level: Medium Difficult | Duration: 8:00
When I began composing my Concert(in)o for Marimba and Wind Quintet, I knew immediately that the middle movement had to be for unaccompanied marimba. In the context of the entire Concert(in)o, this middle movement functions simultaneously as “the” big cadenza of the work, and also as the source of much of the work’s pitch material. But, while the movement is thoroughly integrated into the fabric of the Concert(in)o as a whole, it was always my intention to make it self-contained enough that it could also work as a stand-alone marimba solo.
And so, Beyond the Sequestered Grove came to be.
Through much of the piece, there is an ongoing conflict between diatonic and chromatic music – chord progressions move from dissonant to consonant or vice versa, and formal sections reflect this motion on a larger scale. This piece begins with a sort of motto theme, which recurs several times in the movement, signaling the end of one formal section and the beginning of another. The introductory section also presents an alternation of fully-diminished and dominant 7th chords, which is an important motive of the piece. After this introductory section, a legato melody is presented by the right hand, with prominent half step motion over a changing fabric of octatonic (and almost-octatonic) arpeggios and scales in the left hand. In contrast, a highly diatonic set of continuous variations begins at letter D, which ultimately leads back to the initial motto theme and the octatonic melody. The piece’s climax follows shortly after – a four-voice chorale which begins with diatonic chords and gradually moves to the alternation of fully-diminished and dominant 7th chords from the introduction. After one last chromatic flourish, the piece concludes with a return to the opening motto theme.
I have dubbed the final harmonic motion (F-E-D-G-sharp to octave E-flats) a “Barudin Cadence,” in reference to my good friend Dr. Jeffrey Barudin, who gave the premiere of the Concert(in)o. While we were rehearsing together, Jeff and I had a light-hearted disagreement about the nature of this final gesture. At that point, I was uncertain whether I wanted to keep the E-flats in the piece to resolve the previous dissonant chord, or to leave off the E-flats and let the piece finish inconclusively. I asked Jeff what he thought, and he laughed and replied, “You think that E-flat resolves that chord?” I decided to leave it in, even though I don’t think he believed my explanation of the voice-leading…(re-do, ra-do, ti-do, and enharmonic fa to absent mi. Clear as mud.)