I Found it by the Seapiano quartet (2007)
|Commission||Hannah Collins/Acadia Chamber Ensemble|
|Premiere||April 20, 2008; Yale University, New Haven, CT; Miki Cloud, violin; Anne Lanzilotti, viola; Hannah Collins, ’cello; Timothy Andres, piano|
I Found it by the Sea is the product of two related influences in my musical background.
On the surface, it is a “sequel” to I Found it in the Woods, my flute/viola/harp trio from 2006. The shapes of the opening themes are clearly related. Musically and affectively, though, they are quite different.
Sea makes its structure more obvious by creating space and resolution in between its variations; in this way it feels more stately and classical. It also allows for greater expressive range within each variation, making them more varied and colorful and, in the end, not a little unsettling.
Both Found pieces are related to Brahms’s chamber music, in that I simply took musical objects from various works and recontextualized them in my own. Sea makes this relationship even more explicit. I found it impossible to write a piano quartet without paying homage in some way to Brahms’s Op. 25 (which I first heard when I was 11 and remains my benchmark for great chamber music). I noticed a similarity between the theme of Woods to the piano theme about 10 bars into the Brahms quartet and mashed the two of them together, creating the theme for, in a sense, my Variations on a Theme by Brahms.
In the end of the piece, I set Brahms’s original theme as a “trope” or echo of my own. This gesture was a way to “work out” Brahms’s huge influence on me, by pretending that it was actually I who influenced Brahms.