A colourful work in three sections and describes the progression from night through to early morning.
Nocturne & Sunrise was commissioned by Serenata a Tre for performance during their 2009 tour of New Zealand. It was written for performers Donald Maurice, viola, Barbara Hill, flute, and Giovanni Seneca, guitar.
The work is in one continuous movement, divided into three sections:
Languid but uneasy
The trio was started while the composer was on study leave in France. It is inspired by the transition from evening through night and on to morning. Different moods and atmospheres are created in the music, reflecting these times of the day.
The first section opens with slightly dark and tense theme on guitar over a gentle ostinato. This theme gradually unwinds as a busy texture is developed, leading to a much more vigorous idea on viola. The guitar sets up a rock-style accompaniment under the other instruments. These ideas are then developed before the section fades, the opening motif being turned upside down.
A sustained note on flute links the music into a slow section which depicts the sounds of night-time in a small Parisian apartment - with distant echoes of footsteps, doors slamming, and so forth. Special effects are used here, such as playing with the wood of the bow, and fluttertongues on the alto flute (a lower pitched flute). The music employs 12-note rows to create tension and uncertainty, which is then dispelled by the buoyant final section. Darkness gives way to sunrise, and there is a, a gig-like feel to the ideas. Modes are used for the melodic lines, and mirror-inversions of the themes are also used for variation. The ending is a celebration of the new day ahead.
Nocturne and Sunrise was funded by The University of Otago, as part of the composer's 2008 study leave in Paris.