for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano
duration: 12 minutes
Commissioned and premiered by The Abilene Chamber Players on October 26, 2015.
About the Work:
The initial idea for Dark Water came about after hearing the news of an oil spill that occurred in Santa Barbara County, California. The spill leaked 142,800 gallons of crude oil from a pipeline, with about 21,000 gallons reaching the ocean. While this may be a small number in comparison to other major oil spills, the environmental effect of spilled crude oil is detrimental. Natural habitats become uninhabitable and the wildlife that was unfortunate to come into direct contact face almost certain death. Dark Water explores the magnificence of nature, and the brutality of nature’s intersection with the industrial world.
Olivier Messiaen’s Quator pour la fin du temps was a great inspiration for this piece. Messiaen, who was a self-proclaimed ornithologist, was also intrigued by nature. Aside from the ensemble itself, there are certain passages that provide an homage to Messiaen and his quartet. Both the introduction and the epilogue of Dark Water invite an image of nature both tranquil and on-edge. The ensemble creates an atmosphere of freely moving gestures and timbres. This atmosphere is quickly interrupted by a furious attack of strings. The quick-paced B section is relentless with its rhythmic and dissonant texture; reminiscent of a factory of machines. The piece climaxes in the final section, marked “Like trudging through muck”. This section represents the aftermath of a major oil spill. The slow tempi and heavy dissonance depict a world destroyed, with faint recollections of the past.