Lullaby. Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: "A Concert for New York" (2013). 2014 Western Canadian Music Awards nominee for Classical Recording of the Year.Purchase.
Sunshine Variations for Cello & Piano
Edmonton Recital Society with the support of Karen Cantine
Dedicated to the memory of Tanya Prochazka
Kathleen de Caen (vc)
& Janet Scott Hoyt (pno)
September 25, 2022
2019 will go down as my year of the cello. In the winter, I completed Sonata for Cello and Piano, and in the summer, Sunshine Variations. Whereas the former is an expansive work in three contrasting movements, the latter consists of an uninterrupted sequence of 21 brief variations on a concise theme, the work's flowing structure resembling that of the English composer Hubert Parry's Symphonic Variations. My original theme, in C major, is relaxed and warm, introduced by the cello alone, which accompanies itself with strummed, pizzicato chords. Not until the fifth variation does the music introduce notes beyond the C diatonic collection, allowing some time for the ear to wallow in consonance and prolonged calm. The continuous, chaconne-like structure gently subjects the theme to variation in style, tempo, and mood, exploring the melody's multiple facets, in turns graceful, ecstatic, giddy, and wistful. Contrapuntal exploration plays an important role: in a series of canonic variations and in the ultimate variation, a lively fughetta. Unlike my sonata, whose first movement is at times dark and dramatic, Sunshine Variations, for all its continuous change, projects sustained optimism, hence the title, and in this respect, pays tribute to a key aspect of its dedicatee's personality: the renowned cellist Tanya Prochazka was admired as much for her great artistry as for her sunny disposition, even in the face of hardship. Sunshine Variations was commissioned by the Edmonton Recital Society, with the support of Karen Cantine, and premiered by Janet Scott Hoyt and Kathleen de Caen.
Sep 25, 2022—Kathleen de Caen (vc) & Janet Scott Hoyt (pno). Edmonton Recital Society. Muttart Hall (Edmonton, AB)
" [...] The gently unfolding theme, itself built on a five-note kernel, is given by the cello playing solo, and is then followed by 21 short variations. The overall feel is indeed very sunny, especially with an opening in that sunniest of keys, C major. Rival suggested that the listener might not be able to hear all the variation changes, but in fact they are pretty clear, while at the same time regularly eliding into a new variation—very skillfully, for this is a beautifully crafted work that will appeal to those who enjoy musical construction as much as it will to those who want their ears to be charmed. [...]
"The two instruments are, after the solo opening, very much equals, sometimes playful, at times a little whimsical, and almost always lyrical. [...] One feature in particular contributed to that optimism: throughout the different variations (and in the theme itself), the musical lines regularly rise up the register, giving a flow that rises up and then starts again. Only in the darkest variation does the cello line fall, the piano playing blocks high on the keyboard, but even then, the cello can't resist also ending up high. Finally, at the very end, everything happily tumbles downward, and in the contrast, in the change of the repeated flow, we know the piece is ending.
"These Sunshine Variations were a very pleasant surprise—they deserve to become popular with both cellists, who will really appreciate the musicality of the writing, and with audiences, who will enjoy their flow and their happy tone."