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Stephen Goss : Hiraeth



Stephen Goss

Doberman – Yppan: 12 pages


This latest piece by Stephen Goss was commissioned to mark 100 years since Manuel De Falla’s Homenaje was written. The actual word Hiraeth is of Welsh origin and suggests a longing for a home that probably isn’t there anymore or a yearning for people and things long lost. So the piece has an underlying nostalgia and melancholy.

Unusually the piece calls for the 6th string to be tuned to F, mirroring the Homenaje’s opening semi tonal drop from F to E, as later on in Hiraeth the player retunes to the normal E in the middle of the piece. As with many of Stephen Goss’s pieces the writing is highly individual as evidenced by the opening page, where there is no time signature or key signature, and the writing often moves onto two staves. The actual opening calls for the player to do a string bend down from F to E (carefully explained in the pages of the Preface).After a momentary Quasi Habanera, a Scherzando, Quasi Arpa enters in a multitude of time signatures before settling down finally to a little six note motif, itself a mixture of normal notes and harmonics, that underpins a long held high melody line above. From that point on the music frequently changes from one speed to another, indeed a total of 10 times in just over 70 bars, and at the coda more elements of the Homenaje start to appear and in the final bar , the player is instructed to begin the actual Homenaje by De Falla, at which point Goss’ piece stops.

You can find an interesting performance of this piece, linked to the Homenaje on YouTube, to give you an idea of the harmonic world that this piece inhabits, but suffice it to say, that the writing is highly original, and that the harmonies although very modern in places are never atonal, but the actual guitar writing is like no one else’s I have ever seen. An advanced technique is a necessity for this piece.


Chris Dumigan

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