About this work:
Four Pieces for violin and piano was completed during the spring of 1963 and first performed the following year in Boston, Massachusetts, by violinist Nancy Cirillo and pianist Carol Rand. In much the same way in which suites were often compiled in France during the eighteenth century, performers are free to use as many of the four pieces as they wish in whatever order they wish.
While the character of each piece differs markedly from its companions, certain readily perceptible traits are common to all
of them. The form of each piece, for example, is based on the principal of statement-departure-return in which return is achieved by a modified restatement of material presented at the very beginning or at least, as in the first piece, by a renewed exploitation of musical material already developed earlier. In every piece return is characterized by the reiteration of a reference tone (perhaps enclosed in a rather complex sonority)
projected at the outset of each piece. Although tending toward total chromaticism, these pieces do not depend for their cohesion on a serial ordering of pitches. Indeed, pitches were chosen as much by their effectiveness in contributing to a kind of directed motion similar to the harmonic motion of tonal music as by any other factor. With the exception of the first and last sections of the third piece, these pieces employ complex textures in which a primary melodic line is alternately shared by the violin and the piano in a continuing chain of overlapping and interlocking fragments. While precisely notated, these pieces are rhapsodic and often improvisatory in character.
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Review: "The most outstanding piece was Allen Brings's Three Pieces for violin and piano, which sounds as if it might have been written by Arnold Schoenberg on an amphetamine high. Even the snail's-paced third piece is very tense and hard-driven. Yet there is clarity, sensitivity, and technical mastery in Brings's writing. If he employs the serial technique—and I believe he does—he stands far above most of his fellow practitioners.
"...I especially recall Syoko Erle (violin) and Allen Brings (piano), who gave a suitably feverish performance of the latter's work."
Andrew Derhen, 1971
Version: violin and piano
Year composed: 1963
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Keyboard plus One Instrument
Instrumentation: 1 Piano, 1 Violin