Commissioned as a set by violinist Beatrice Philips, we first performed these pieces together at the 2013 Lewes Chamber Music Festival. I had played Janáček’s Violin Sonata with her and wanted to write something with a similar tense and fragmentary character, which is what brought me to the idea of 3 self-contained short pieces. In the first piece the opening muffled bars (where the pianist dampens the piano strings by hand to match the pizzicato sound of the violin) lead to an explosive middle section which dissipates almost instantly. This short and self-contained shape then repeats from the beginning.
This feature, of the music ‘happening twice’, is also used in the other two pieces in the set. The second is a song with two verses, which is broken at its climax by a coda of repeated sharp chords. This leads into the fast third movement where the violin has repeated tremolos which struggle against the piano, colliding only in the last few bars.
About Kate Whitley
Kate Whitley (b. 1989) is a composer and pianist based in South London. She runs The Multi-Story Orchestra with Christopher Stark, which is based in a car park in Peckham as part of Bold Tendencies. She won a 2014 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Special Award and a 2013 Sky Academy Futures Fund Bursary. Her 2014 piece Alive to words by Holly McNish won a British Composers Award and was described as ‘a remarkable feat, with a genuine emotional gravity’ (The Telegraph). She has been hailed as a ‘remarkable and innovative young musician’ (Seen and Heard International), and her music described as ‘uniquely sensitive’ (Bachtrack) and ‘powerfully moving’ (Edinburgh Fringe Review).
Her piece Speak out, using words taken from Malala Yousafzai’s 2013 UN speech, was commissioned by the BBC for International Women’s Day 2017.