Cast in five movements, Gillingham's Songbook for Viola & Marimba is inspired by song and song forms – On Wings of Song, Song of Sorrow, Birdsong, Evensong.
Genre: Duet for Viola & Marimba | # of Players: 2
Level: Difficult | Duration: 15:00
The Sonorous Duo, comprised of Kris Grant, marimba, and Courtney Grant, viola, commissioned Songbook for Viola and Marimba. The work is cast in five movements, all inspired by song and song form.
The first movement, On Wings of Song, consists of fast flowing scale and arpeggio passages accompanying a lyrical, flowing melody. Both the marimba and the viola alternate between accompaniment and melody throughout the movement and move through G-flat, D, C, and E major. Structured in song form (ABA), the return of A is in B major and modulates to E-flat major at the coda.
Movement II, Song of Sorrow, begins elegiacally in E minor with marimba arpeggios and octave articulations suggesting a sort of funeral procession. The viola appropriately sings a sorrowful theme permeated with descending and ascending major sevenths. A set of five variations follow with a quiet coda ending the movement.
Inspired by birdsong, Movement III, Birdsong, begins with a harmonic glissando in the viola alluding to the ambient outside venue of the birds with the marimba mimicking birdcalls. The marimba segues to a flowing pattern of sextuplets with the viola now imitating the birdsong. These flowing patterns and the birdsong are then alternated between the two instruments, which continue to the end of the movement where the viola plays a high E harmonic under which the marimba plays articulations of a dominant ninth chord on C that is left unresolved.
Movement IV, Evensong, is a lovely chorale melody beginning in the marimba in G major and answered by the viola. A small developmental section follows in G-flat major with a return of the chorale in F major and a final modulation back to G major. Song of Joy, Movement V, bears the least resemblance to song style and song form in that it is in sonata form, an iconic staple of instrumental music since the Classical era. The first theme group is reminiscent of a fiddling tune complete with open fifths strummed by the viola in the introduction. However, the lyrical style of song makes a joyous appearance as the second theme group sung first by viola and then handed over to the marimba. An extensive development follows, working both themes and seguing into the recapitulation with the second theme group carried by the marimba. A rousing coda closes the movement.