Commissioned by the Hebrides Ensemble and first performed on their Scottish tour in March 2010.
In Seven Pierrot Miniatures, I took the Commedia dell’arte character, Pierrot as my primary source of inspiration. Other more tenuous links to Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire also served as a starting point in forming the general shape of the work. The piece is cast in seven short movements, whereas the Schoenberg comprises three sets of seven movements. Although there is no part for voice, I have taken seven poems by Albert Giraud (none of them set in Pierrot Lunaire) as points of departure:
1. The Clouds 2. Decor 3. Absinthe 4. Suicide 5. The Church 6. Sunset 7. The Harp
Each movement takes its impetus from the corresponding poem, but in the piece as a whole, I wanted to explore the extreme contrasts of the multi-faceted character of Pierrot in a musical setting. There is an almost mirror-like quality to the form of the piece and a sense of ending where it has begun: movements 1, 3, 5 and 7 are closely linked, both in terms of their musical material and a sense of melancholy, dream-like quality and longing. Movements 2 and 6 are also strongly connected, with allusions to the more mischievous, violent side of Pierrot. Movement 4 serves as a sort-of pivotal point within the work, juxtaposing a surreal, shimmering calm with brutal outbursts. There is never any direct repetition, yet there is a strong sense of material returning and mutating as the work unfolds.
Instrumentation Flute, doubling piccolo Clarinet in Bb, doubling Bass Clarinet in Bb Violin, doubling Viola Cello Piano