Chiaroscuro (2013) is a duo for violin and viola. As the title suggests, the piece contrasts dark with light in my mind. Throughout, is a struggle between the two tonalities of a ‘dark’ F minor and ‘light’ A flat major. I would also suggest the importance of the inescapable fact that a viola tends to sound darker in comparison to the often bright sounding violin. Although Chiaroscuro contains a brief reference to the textural writing in the fast movements of the Three Madrigals (1947) by Bohuslav Martinu, a large amount of my stylistic influenced can be traced to Mendelssohn’s astoundingly beautiful and emotionally delicate Adagio from the String Quartet number 6 in F minor, Op. 80 (1847).
I originally composed Chiaroscuro for Arisa Ota and Martin Outram in late 2013 and they gave a moving premiere at St Gregory’s Centre for Music in the Canterbury Christ Church University Viola Day concert. Inspired by this performance, along with the additional performer’s insight from Paul Beckett and Susie Meszaros, I played the same duo with Karen Jolliffe in a Free Range Series event built around the work of the painter, Felicity Allen at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen. Sophie Rosa and Paul Beckett gave two further performances of the work in their incredible programme of duos by Bach, Mozart, Bartok, Ligeti, and Martinu.