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Trio for Flute, Trumpet and Piano: “Croatian” (2009)
In May of 2009, I had the distinct pleasure of assuming the role of Composer-In- Residence for a Music Festival in Zagreb, Croatia. The invitation had come more than a year earlier from Tomislav Spoljar, one of the nicest men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting – and a trumpet player too!
In addition to the performance of many existing works of mine, I offered to write a new piece for the festival, composed for the somewhat unusual combination of flute, trumpet and piano. The piece would be for Tom’s wife, Ana, on flute, and would also include an old friend of mine from college days on trumpet, Andrew Balio, now the principal trumpeter of the Baltimore Symphony.
The first movement, Dances for Insecure Nobility, begins with four rather ambiguous jazz chords. This immediately launches into an off-kilter gavotte, with sudden dynamic outbursts (a la Berlioz) and a feeling of someone always lurking, adding to the insecurity of the noble dance. The jazz chords intrude again, and variations occur, first with a gigue, and later an up-tempo almost ‘Can-Can-esque’ drive to the finish.
Next comes Ruby, whose title was inspired by a photo of the same name, depicting the roofs of many homes and buildings in Dubrovnik, awash in the bold, vivid and fiery red color. I chose to use a flugelhorn in this movement, to add to the mystical music reflecting an Asian character, where the stone is held in high-esteem.
The last movement, No: ReMorse, is, of course, a musical pun. A bright, rhythmical pattern is repeated many times, and as one might guess from the title, it has significance in Morse Code. If decoded, the long-short patterns do in fact spell out C-R-O-A-T-I-A! I chose to use the piccolo trumpet to further support the bright and energetic character of the movement, and to play against the inherent qualities of the flute.
My thanks to Tom for the wonderful opportunity to share my music with the people of Croatia, and for the chance to create a new piece of chamber music!
Jim Stephenson April, 2009
Premiere date: May 9, 2009. Zagreb, Croatia.