to be sung on the water


Violin and Viola
Commissioned by Michelle Makarski and Ronald Copes
Recorded on ECM CD Michelle Makarski and Ronald Copes
Recorded on Laurel CD Stanford String Quartet
First performance: March 1989 Michelle Makarski and Ronald Copes, Basel

Program notes: 

‘to be sung on the water’ was written for Michelle Makarski and Ronald Copes and completed in January, 1988.  The title of the piece, which became increasingly insistent during its composition, refers to vocal works of the same name by Franz Schubert and Samuel Barber.  There are no musical references to these earlier pieces, but the sense of the title, of singing on the water, is present throughout.  The music unfolds in a series of stanzas, generally increasing in length, and separated by silence.  though mostly quiet and gentle with both instruments always muted, a more agitated section occurs toward the middle of the work.  Double stops and non-synchronous rhythms predominate (as water images), but the central section features a melody presented as an unaccompanied line.  The piece closes with a return to the shorter phrases of the opening.    

- Donald Crockett