Thrice Told Tales of the Pomegranate Forest is a highly programmatic composition utilizing veiled imagery. The unusual combination of Trumpet, Violin, and Bass Clarinet insures a wealth of available tone color, which is maximized by the employment of trumpet and violin mutes and violin pizzicato. The factor of three, as suggested in the title, is a recurrent theme of the work, particularly apparent in the three-member ensemble and in the three-movement architecture. Fanciful titles, shifting meters and exotic textures lure the listener to a compelling land where legend is truth and reality is subject to the undulating mists of imagination.
Thrice Told Tales of The Pomegranate Forest won First Place in the 1978 University
of Tennessee Chamber Music Composition Contest in Knoxville, Tennessee and received Honorable
Mention in the 1978 New Music For Young Ensembles Composition Contest in New York City. It was
subsequently performed at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 1981 and received its New York premiere at
Carnegie Hall by the Adirondack Chamber Players in April 1986.
I. The Misguided Journey. With some trepidation, the travelers begin their sojourn. Percussive strokes by the violin mark each step, while the muted trumpet traces the convolutions of the cragged path. Shadowy apparitions appear in mirror and octave unison, fragments of themes past and themes to come.
Over steadily moving eighth-notes in the bass clarinet, the violin introduces a quieter theme, played on the G-string. The calm quickly dissipates as this theme is turned on itself in diminution by the trumpet. Earlier themes beat against each other - first in frantic competition, then in restless co-existence. Furious passages in octave unison mock the hopelessly lost travelers.
Then, miraculously, the path is discovered. Pizzicato violin strokes underpin the trumpet's elaboration of the opening theme - this time without mute. Abruptly and unexpectedly the journey ends, as the travelers find themselves in the very heart of the Pomegranate Forest.
II. The Enchanted Vines. Ahead in a clearing lie the Enchanted Vines, endowed by once-powerful Druid warlocks. Their ancient life force is embodied in an asymmetrical passage in the muted violin, which soon passes. Above a sustained background, the violin raises a plaintive and wistful song - a requiem for dreams unfulfilled, for questions unanswered.
The song fades, and only the ageless life force remains. The air is bittersweet with the fragrance; time passes unmeasured while earthly kingdoms rise and fall. In gentle whispers, the vines beckon, urging us to tarry, until escape is nigh impossible.
Suddenly, in a shift of perception, the vines are metamorphosed into subtle opponents - enemies to the familiar spheres of time and substance. In resounding dissonance we struggle against them, mortality against timelessness, and only reluctantly do they let us pass.
III. Gnomes. From the nearby underbrush three gnomes appear, dancing in ancient and profane steps, both familiar and strange. First the gnomes dance in unison, then their leader dances furiously while the remaining two gnomes keep time. In hypnotic rondo fashion each gnome performs in turn - sometimes alone, sometimes with one or both of the remaining gnomes. As our eyes grow wide, the gnomes spontaneously burst into even more frantic displays - dancing as one, yet with each maintaining the integrity of his own steps as before.
Suddenly aware of our interest, the gnomes break off the dance and surround us. Dancing again in unison, they mesmerize us into the dance itself. Like miniature Pied Pipers, their steps lead us to the boundary between the physical and the ethereal, the border of the realm of Fantasy, the edge of the Pomegranate Forest.
Bb Bass Clarinet
Published by Metamorphic Music.
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