Today that handsome fellow pictured above, who also just happens to be my sainted husband, Edward Elder, turns 57. And, as has become tradition in our 23 years plus together, one of the birthday presents he receives from me today is a duet I composed for viola and piano. Ed plays the viola, I play the piano. And the duets I write for each new birthday are called Evocations. I have already shared posts about Evocation I and Evocation II on Notes from a Composer. Today I will skip ahead a couple decades and share the newest duet, Evocation XXIII.
You may remark that Evocation XXIII is shorter than Evocations I and II. True, it is even much more shorter than some of the early Evocations (oh, like V and X) which took on epic proportions. There is a practical as well as aesthetic reason for the briefness of Evocation XXIII, in fact the briefness of almost all the recently composed Evocations. For one, they are called Evocations, which linguistically and aesthetically connotes a hint of something, a suggestion, a brief reverie, not a lengthy meditation or exhaustive discourse (That’s what Sonatas or Rhapsodies are for, right?).
And for another, well, just practically, once you have over 20 viola/piano duets to choose from, it becomes more and more likely that each single one is going to get played less and less over the years. Therefore it is helpful that each new addition to the ever thickening “book” may be quickly learned and swiftly performed, so that Ed and I can better enjoy the playing of it as well as its equally easily breezy* siblings. (Not to harp on poor Evocations V & X, but they are not only epically long but also require a lot of practice for us to get halfway decently right; and thus haven’t been played in over ten years…).
Anyway, enough talk, on to the music. Here is the computer program’s rendition of Evocation XXIII. Ed and I will be playing it ourselves too later this morning, using actual instruments.
*and by “breezy” I am referring to the length of the piece and relative ease of sight reading it. Not the music’s emotional quality, as that does vary greatly from piece to piece, and which is a whole other matter about which I would caution making assumptions.