Published by Trillenium Music.
True to my name, miniatures have always attracted me. In the last few years I have written several VERY short works, such as 12 Snippets, a chamber piece consisting of twelve 10-second (sic) pieces, but one of my first experimentations with little compositions, and not quite so extreme, was my Six Miniatures for Bassoon and Piano.
It occurred to me to write miniatures when in 1993 Japanese bassoonist Shigeru Ohta invited me to compose a piece for him and to come to Japan to perform and record it with him. The Japanese have always had a proclivity for things small, such as haiku and bonsai trees, so I thought it fitting to write a work consisting of six individual but related movements, each circumscribed within fairly tight borders.
In the first movement, the bassoon spins out a plaintive song over a mildly dissonant, impressionistically-flavored accompaniment, which seems to be quietly searching- rhythmically and harmonically- for its chance to bloom. This comes to fruition in the piano’s chorale-like solo in the fourth movement, which, with the bassoon straining into its highest register, further explores the expressive potential of the first movement’s ideas. The second movement provides a jazzy, energetic counterpoint to the first movement’s wanderings, while the third movement, a short rondo, combines a cordial, easy-going melody with several sardonic, rhythmically-jagged episodes which employ the bassoon’s natural capability to portray the buffoon. The fifth movement, a short cadenza for each instrument alone, then together exchanging comments, provides a bridge to the final and most extended movement, a fugue. With its subject loosely based on the second movement’s wide leaps, the fugue features the most virtuosic writing of the set as well as several references to the theme from the first (and fourth) movement. Providing several anchor points, it is first heard over an ostinato figure in the piano, and later briefly reappears alone before the short coda, which wraps up the work with a faster, more concise recapitulation of the fugue.
After Shigeru Ohta’s premiere of Six Miniatures in Tokyo in 1994, the piece has been performed by bassoonists Arnold Irchai, and more recently, Gary Moody, in July, 2008, at the International Double Reed Society convention in Provo Utah, this time with myself at the piano. The recording made by Shigeru Ohta and myself has been released by 4-Tay on a CD entitled The Twisted Pine Branch, 4TayCD4020.