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  • chrisdumigan

Mark Small : The Path of the Low Valley for Guitar and Cello : DOz

Mark Small

Les Productions D’Oz: Score and separate parts (16, 8, and 8 pages respectively)

Boston – born Mark Small is a composer/performer and music journalist who has produced many works for a few different ensembles and here has written a three -movement work for guitar and cello, beginning with a Prelude, marked Moderato in Am. This has a very mysterious sound – world full of normal major and minor triads but placed next to one another in unusual combinations, which does help to provide the slightly other – world quality to the writing. The guitar starts the piece off accompanied by only a low solo line of harmony on the cello, until bar 9 where the instruments play a whole tone descending scale harmonised in thirds, that takes the piece briefly back to the opening triad idea. The time signatures change quite a lot, from 4/4, to 2/4, and then to 7/8, 6/8, 11/8 and 3 / 4 in this opening section, before a new idea enters on a 12/8 arpeggio pattern on the guitar with a cello melody that still manages to sound elusive and enigmatic in its harmonies. The opening section then returns leading almost immediately into a Meno Mosso where the two players swap solo lines in a question/answer type of style. This considerable middle section then moves back , after a brief climax into the opening idea again for one more time through before a sudden climbing passage on the guitar leads to the final two forte bars.

The second movement Adagio is marked molto espressivo and has an 8 bar guitar solo that begins on another spooky, but perfectly harmonious chord of a C minor, with a Major 7th above and a melody beginning on F# above that. The melody continues in the same vein, before the cello enters at bar 9 and takes over the melody in what is a varied repeat. This then turns into a faster andante where both instruments play some gentle quaver runs, again with the guitar having the melody first and then the cello. At the climax to this section the guitar via a brief run up the fingerboard has a quiet solo, ending on another unusual sequence of chords, before the opening section returns once more, slightly varied and a quiet coda on A major.

The final Allegro starts straightaway with a rising melody on the cello and some rocking pairs of notes in quavers , and longer bass notes on the guitar, which after 20 bars takes over the melody and the cello plays a slight variation of the arpeggiated repeated notes. A cantabile meno mosso then turns the opening melody from 4/4 into a 3 / 4 in what is a variation of the opening melodic ideas. After a mysterious solo run on the guitar the main theme from the previous movement suddenly makes an entrance , after which the 3rd movement’s main ideas re- enter for one more time through , and this leads directly to the coda where a run up the guitar leas to a perfect cadence in Am aided by long cello bass notes.

This was a very pleasant and interesting piece that is thoroughly melodic throughout whilst having many harmonic moments that are meant to sound a little strange and mystery –driven. The writing is not too difficult for two decent players and I can see this piece being very well received by any cello and guitar duo.

Chris Dumigan

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