Solstice, (version with flute)

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
5 minutes
Modern classical music
Instrumental parts

Solstice is a short trio for flute, violin and piano and lasts around 5 minutes. A version is also available with clarinet instead of flute. In astronomy, the title refers to the longest and shortest days in the year, but here it is more a reflection on transition from one stage of life to another. The music therefore goes through a wide range of emotions associated with change.

The piece opens with dramatic tremolos on the piano and a statement of the main thematic idea (the basis of the whole work), first on flute, then violin, then both in canon. It is audibly apparent that the melodic phrases are modal in character. In fact, the whole work is based on the 8-note mode E, F, G#, A#, B, C, C#, D, E which is transposed at various stages.

An allegro follows, using the last notes of the opening section as a starting point, and a variant of the opening theme is soon heard in the piano. There follows a slower section which develops the opening phrase. This builds to a dramatic climax after which echoes of the allegro are heard over a crashing chord in the piano. Again, the slower music resumes and builds to a bigger climax, and again the allegro makes a further attempt over another crashing chord. This time, the short fragments are aloud to develop a little further, but then fade into a quiet resum� of the slower section.

A variation of the opening theme follows, characterised by chords in the piano. The work closes with the flute and violin becoming more and more fragmented, and the piano chords becoming more prominent and much more dense, providing a sinister close to the piece.

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