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Lullaby

Instrumentation: 2222/4200/1perc/hp/cel/str
Duration: 5:00
Year Composed: 2011
Commissioner: Edmonton Symphony Orchestra


Complete Audio

NOTE: begins very quietly


Recording

Featured on the ESO's 2-CD "A Concert for New York" (2013) alongside works by Estacio, Gilliland, Martinu & Bernstein. 2014 Western Canadian Music Awards nominee for Classical Recording of the Year. Purchase.

Profiles: Video & Print

Video produced by Glenn Kubish of ATB Financial.
Putting the Accent on Education Dreaming of Carnegie
in in the Edmonton Journal (May 3, 2012)

Feature article [PDF] by Elizabeth Withey.

Program Notes

I sketched this piece in the weeks following the birth of my son. As a first-time father it was a period of emotional extremes. I found myself elated and proud one moment, frightened and defeated the next. Nothing prepares you for the responsibility of caring for fragile, new life. Needless to say I spent a great deal of time attempting to comfort my son by cradling him in my arms, gently rocking him as I wandered around the house. My mind wandered, too, and I began to experiment with the metre of my rocking. I soon discovered that regularity in metre (staying in two or three, for instance) mattered less than regularity in pulse. So instead of a consistent 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 etc. I could rock in constantly changing metres, such as 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1, 1-2 and so on, each "1" receiving a slight downbeat stress.

It is precisely with this rhythm that the piece opens (in the double basses). But it never repeats, the calming, steady pulse combining with metric unpredictability to create a floating sensation. The first five notes simultaneously introduce the lullaby's basic melodic idea, D-A-F-E-G, a cipher derived from my son's name, Raphaël.

While Brahms's legacy lives on in all crib mobiles, many lullabiesóthe more stylized, less soporificóare, as one observer aptly put it, "certainly not intended to lull a child to sleep but to remind each adult listener of his own childhood". The abundant ornamentation in Chopin's Berceuse, Op. 57 and the prickly dissonances in Ravel's Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré, to take just two examples, are more rousing than pacifying. If these lullabies recall our childhoods, then perhaps mine brings solace to the anxious parent. —R.R.


Performances

  • Mar 2, 2014—Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, cond. William Eddins
    Winspear Centre (Edmonton, AB)
  • Nov 30, 2013—Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Ron Royer
    Salvation Army Scarborough Citadel (Toronto, ON)
  • 2012—multiple broadcasts on NPR-affiliated radio stations across the U.S.
  • May 8, 2012—Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, cond. William Eddins
    Carnegie Hall (New York, NY)
  • May 4 & 5, 2012—Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, cond. William Eddins
    Winspear Centre (Edmonton, AB)

Reviews

"Robert Rivalís concise Lullaby (2012) presupposes a fairly sophisticated baby: Its gentle textures and flowing themes occasionally yield surprising harmonic turns and briskly changing meters."
—Allan Kozinn, New York Times
"...a work of quiet rapture and refined sensibility ... elegant concision ..."
—Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide (September/October 2012)
"Rivalís Lullaby, inspired by the birth of his first child last summer, conjures moods that certainly beckon sleep, although Rival eschews a conventional triple meter like Brahms used, choosing instead a kind of narrative arc suggesting fleeting stages of consciousness drifting away. Those stages are as likely to feel anxiously propulsive as pleasantly soporific, and the effect is engaging."
—William Rankin, Globe & Mail
"Opening the program was Canadian composer Robert Rival's Lullaby. Written for the composer's infant son, it is true to its title, moving in gently rocking rhythms and creating a lulling, atmospheric dream world with slow melodies, subtle string glissandos and soft percussion effects."
—Michael Huebner, Birmingham News (Alabama)
"Things began delicately, serenely with Robert Rivalís Lullaby, a brief, rhythmically rich piece written for his infant son."
—Elizabeth Withey, Edmonton Journal
"...serenely surreal..."
—Lark Clark, CKUA radio
"The work was heartfelt, lovely, gentle, unassuming..."
—Harry Rolnick, ConcertoNet.com , May 8, 2012
"...charming..."
—Mark Morris, Edmonton Journal, Sep. 30, 2013
"Robert Rivalís tender, slightly Ravelian Lullaby (2012) uses changing metres, rather than the triple time of cradle-rocking, to evoke walking and rocking his first child."
—Roger Knox, The Wholenote, April 2014

Score Perusal & Parts Rental

For score perusal and parts rental information, contact Robert Rival.