By Lewis Spratlan | For Solo Cello | 26′
Composer: Lewis Spratlan
Year Composed: 2006
Instrumentation: Solo Cello
Catalogue Number: OM0410
Listen to excerpts of Shadow:
I. Shadows I
II. Rambo – Rimbaud
III. Variation and Sarabande
IV. Shadows II
Who’s playing? Matt Haimovitz, cello
Lewis Spratlan writes in the liner notes to the Oxingale recording:
Shadow was composed for Matt Haimovitz in spring 2006. It imagines that music has mass and can both cast a shadow and be hidden in shadow. The shadows, in any case, are not just replicas, but have all the variability of visual shadows, depending on the brightness of the light source, its angles, the kind of surface on which the shadow is cast, the number of light sources, and so on.
In all four movements, shadows operate on a variety of levels. In II, III, and IV, the second half is a large-scale shadow of the first half– a recasting of the initial music. This is most explicit in movements II and III: in Rambo/Rimbaud, Rimbaud uses almost all of the same notes as Rambo, with big changes in register, tempo, and articulation. (Most notable, Rambo’s machine-gun blasts are, shadowed in Rimbaud, mysterious plucked notes.) In III, we get the shadow first, then the thing shadowed– a variation followed by a Sarabande, an austere and solemn Spanish dance.
In the two outside movements the shadowing also happens on a microcosmic level, in some cases with just a few notes immediately followed by their shadow. In I, there are two main musical ideas: high, agitated music and low, sonorous music, each phrase accompanied by its shadow. At first, these two worlds are quite separate, but as the movement progresses, the shadows start to wander, cut loose and trespassing into the “wrong” territory, as in a dream. The second half of the movement presents a songful melody that attempts a reconciliation of the two opposed registers. In IV, the transformations are very rapid, as if the shadows were cast by a rapidly moving light source that might even be blinking. The movement closes with a simple coda, all the earlier high jinks now reduced to a simple two-note sigh with its ever more languid shadows, all of it floating on a mild little dance.
This work is recorded on Oxingale Records’ album After Reading Shakespeare. Click here to go to the album page on iTunes.