For Bob. arranged for Viola and Piano. First performed by Elisabeth Smalt and Kevin Volans, London 2016.
I have no idea where this piece came from and how it is structured. But before and after I wrote it I was nagged by the question: what does the Viola have to do with the Piano?
Did this combination evolve by unfortunate accident? The Viola was perfected in the 18th century. Its natural métier is (private) chamber music. The Piano on the other hand kept growing and blossomed in the 19th century as the ultimate public instrument. If the piano is to play with the Viola, it has to rein back its power and pose as an accompanist.
Maybe a third instrument, perhaps from the 20th century, is needed to mediate between these two very different sound worlds. So when we play this ‘trio’ with 2 instruments I invite the listener to mentally add the silent part(ner).
- Kevin Volans