Ian Gammie : Pastorale
Corda Music Publications: 8 pages
This one movement work is at the same time deep and mysterious in nature and also very complex musically and harmonically. The one thing you don’t get is what a lesser composer would do with such a title, and have drone basses indicating the peasants and farmer workers having their dance! This is much deeper and resonant and moreover quite complicated in structure too.
The opening section is marked Prelude, moderato con rubato, and begins with a rocking idea from two triads and some bass notes in between almost in imitation of the above. Then this turns into 3 , and occasionally 4 voices usually as chords before a poco piu animato heralds a similar but not identical idea to the opening few bars. One noticeable fact is the significant number of speed changes, both slower and faster throughout the first section that is 64 bars in length. Then a completely new section marked Contemplation changes from E to A Major has moments of considerable harmonic complexity where nothing seems to sit still for even a full bar, but moves elsewhere, to then move again, until the player is in danger of losing the key structure in his head. Then at bar 93, another new section Balletto turns from the previous 3 / 4 to 9/8 , and after reaching a considerable climax repeats , with a number of variations before turning into an Alla Breve, where the Balletto material is itself varied into a new Risoluto variant. Only then does the initial idea return before quickly moving on into another direction which at the approach of the coda becomes faster until finally the two note idea now marked dolce and ‘caressing’ brings the piece to a quite close.
This is a significant piece that is, as you can tell, quite unusual in both style and harmonic structure, but it really is a case of getting to know Gammie’s style, because after a few playings it really does take hold, and as with all the best music, it doesn’t make its effect on first hearing/playing, but that situation changes hugely when you keep on it, and it is worth the effort, when you do!