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This lively piece was newly arranged in September 2011, but the original Abigail’s Jig (Op.10 No.2a) (1980) was for flute and piano, and was written especially for the composer’s daughter.
The piece attempts to capture the atmosphere of an Irish jig, using very straightforward harmony, and folk-like modal melodies. The introduction is intended to be humorous and rather musically misleading. It starts in F minor, but is immediately contradicted by remote chords to that key, and rhythmically parodying the ‘cowboy’ music of Aaron Copland. Modal harmony also helps to create the mood of pseudo-folk music.
The main theme starts in the unexpected key of D minor and for 20 bars the two players take turns to present the melody, the piano vamping for the most part. An angular counter-melody is added when the introductory music returns, which leads to the second theme, still in D minor, and based largely on arpeggios and scales. After 14 bars, the harmony modulates sequentially and builds up to a key change to E minor, which presents the first theme unexpectedly softly, in keeping with the humour of the piece. The recap here is contracted before the climax where the recorder plays decorative triplets against a strong statement in the piano of the main theme in augmentation. After a final reference to the introductory material, the piece finishes with an upward cadential flourish.
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Reviews of Abigail’s Jig for descant recorder and piano
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