violin and piano

Duration 16’
Instrumentation violin, piano
First Performance 21 September 2024, Wigmore Hall, London; Leila Josefowicz violin, John Novacek piano
Commissioned by Wigmore Hall

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Mriya translates from the Ukrainian language as dream, vision, ambition and vow. Inspired by the immense courage, conviction and integrity of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a resilient Ukrainian people, a persistent struggle, between the dream of freedom, driven by hope and resolve, and the darkness of war, runs through the music.

This opposition is expressed in the dreamlike opening of Mriya with a mysterious, peaceful, introspective sound-world co-existing with one that is dark, threatening and hostile in nature. There are fleeting moments of hope, particularly in a playful second section within the first movement. Time hangs heavy. In the second movement, innocence flees in haste, the dream of peace dissolves abruptly and the rising, horrifying darkness of war commands fast, rhythmic and irregular music. The disquieting, distressing feelings this gives rise to are conveyed through the violin playing tremolo almost throughout, the piano providing a nervously energetic accompaniment. Still, within, determination and fortitude hold on tenaciously.

The stark, sparse third movement separates the two instrumental voices for the most part. Each is resolute: expressive, dark and impassioned, suggesting separation, displacement, trauma, destruction, injury and loss. The slow finale that follows is precise and poignant. A floating, delicate melody transforms into one that is muscular, powerful and grounded. The piano pulsates around the melodic voice, growing to an emotional and expressive climax – pushed to the limits – before both voices recede into more muted material, where it all began, singing hauntingly.