The recording of this music took place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the summer of 2020. In the face of all of the difficulties arising out of the pandemic and the steps necessary to mitigate its spread, musicians everywhere found creative ways to keep their music alive—even if live performances, the heartbeat of music, could not take place. This recording is one such example. Each piece was originally composed as a chamber piece, intended to be played, as indicated, by two, three or four players. But, in the face of the pandemic, this was impossible. As with many of the difficulties that life throws in our paths and as doors to what we are used to close, other doors open to new possibilities. This recording was one such door. In the studio, isolated in the recording room, Brett Deubner played each part, one at a time, while Randy Crafton, the recording engineer, recorded on the other side of the glass panel while I watched and listened on my laptop, sitting at home in my attic. The end result, which would never have happened were it not for the pandemic, was a unique performance of these pieces, as all of the parts were played by the same player on the same instrument. To clearly differentiate between parts, the recording is unusual in that the parts are widely spread in the sound space, so that the ear can distinguish between them, even though they were all recorded by Brett standing, physically, in the same spot.
While working and living in Philadelphia starting back in 2010, I had occasion to meet a young family —mother, father and daughter—who all played violin. I wrote Sonatine with them in mind, but to my knowledge, it was never played. This year, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I arranged it for three violas and my good friend, the wonderful violist Brett Deubner, safely recorded all three parts at Kaleidoscope Studios.
Sea and Sky
In Truro MA—sitting on the beach—eyes half shut—watching the blue sky—scudding clouds—the waves quietly rolling in from Massachusetts Bay—I heard two violas—sea and sky.
By nature, I am not a religious person. Nevertheless, the idea of transfiguration, that is, a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state, has long been a guiding star in my life. We are what we are—but that does not mean we are forever stuck in the same modes of perception, thought, and feeling that happen to be our present state of being. We can be transformed, especially by what is mysterious, awesome, and beautiful in the universe in which we exist and of which we are a part, however infinitesimal.
OTHER MUSIC BY STANLEY GRILL FEATURING THE VIOLA
The Bridge (viola and orchestra) 2020
Remember (viola and piano) 2020
The Whirr of Wings (suite for flute, viola, cello) 2020
Schnee und Eis (soprano and viola) 2020
Aphorisms II (viola and piano) 2019
Melville’s Dream (flute, viola, cello) 2017
4 Nocturnes (violin, viola) 2013
Middle Ground (violin, 2 violas, cello) 2012
O, Mystery! (viola solo) 2012
The Four Elements (viola, string orchestra) 2009
Ecstasy (viola solo) 2009
Passion, a love duet (viola and cello) 2003
Civil War Songs (viola and piano) 1992
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