The Trio (for Vn, Vc, Pn) was completed in 1978 and dedicated to the memory of Seymour Miroff, an outstanding violinist and musician and a valued friend to many of us in the New York musical community. Its first movement Moderato -Allegro con Fuoco, opens with a soft, rhythmic introduction and progresses to an intense, lyrical Allegro. The second, "Cantabile", begins with a mournful theme in the lowest cello octave range and eventually moves into a dirge, with the strings singing over a slow, repeating piano ostinato. The third movement, Allegro molto con brio, is strongly contrasting with constantly changing rhythms, some playful sections, and a sort of "stamping dance" in the middle.
It is risky to attach the title "masterpiece" to contemporary work, but for Katherine Hoover's Trio, I think no smaller word will do. No serious collection of contemporary music should be without this record.
'Aria' was written in 1982 as the middle movement of a Serenade for clarinet and string quartet. This piece was originally intended for adult amateurs, and its simplicity and lyricism have proved perfect for the cello.
In 1985 a cellist friend requested a companion piece, so I added the Allegro giocoso. It is a light, quick movement with bantering between the two instruments, and a few effects that only a cello can make.
'Aria' was written in 1982 as the middle movement of a Serenade for clarinet and string quartet. This piece was originally intended for adult amateurs, and its simplicity and lyricism have proved perfect for the cello. In 1985 a cellist friend requested a companion piece, so I added the Allegro giocoso. It is a light, quick movement with bantering between the two instruments, and a few effects that only a cello can make.
Sometime in the 1960's I came across a simple, lovely canon by Christoph Demantius (1567 - 1643) with a text beginning, "Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris..." ("Give us peace, Lord, in our time...").
Both the music and sentiment continued to haunt me, for I would occasionally use the piece in sight-singing classes, where it would be sung by vigorous young men the age of thousands who had been drafted to suffer and die in Vietnam and elsewhere. At some point I began to think about structuring a large work around this canon; one whose parts would all be related in various ways. This is the piece that developed from that idea. The first movement's main theme grew from certain motives in the canon, but they are woven into this theme in subtle ways; they do not stand out. Since the second theme is derived from the first, those motives, though not obvious, are present throughout much of the movement. The second movement, a fantasia, begins in a very quiet, pastoral mood, actually incorporating the sound (at pitch) of a mourning dove in the viola. As this section begins to fade, we hear a more open reference to the canon; this is quickly effaced by the rather violent material that erupts and dominates the next large part of the work. In the aftermath of this section the piano leads us to a quiet, thoughtful area where the canon melody appears in the strings in isolated, chorale-like phrases. Then, after a long section which binds together various aspects of the piece, it appears in the original canon form, to close the work.
The most interesting of these [works by Ravel, Dohnanyi, Damase] was Katheriine Hoover's Da Pacem Piano Quintet...an appealingly intricate fantasy.
...a violent, brooding work...a spiritual exploration of the need for reconciliation in a broken world. It is also an inventive exploration of the motivic and harmonic possibilities of the old tune...When the canon iis finally stated in full by the quartet, with soft comments from the piano, it is satisfying both emotionally and musically. The fragments come together making both levels whole.
Its balance and serene chordal planes and emotionally charged passage work was fresh and vigorous.
The program’s most compelling work was Ms. Hoover’s Quintet Da Pacem, a lyrical, flexibly harmonized piece that made a strong impression (at) its premiere in 1989.
sumptuous and haunting
Hoover's Quintet (Da Pacem) is clearly a major contribution to the repertory by a contemporary composer.
...a stunning meditation on the Vietnam War based on a canon by Demantius. Brooding music, building up to a shattering climax and then returning to peace, it lingers in the memory and demands to be heard again.
I began work on this piece in late August 2001. Several weeks later, after the shock of the 9/11 attacks here in Manhattan, as I finally returned to work on this piece, it changed, as our lives had changed. It was as if a black cloud had settled over the island-a giant shadow. This piece became darker.
I finished it and put it away for some years. Then, when Marka Gustavsson, violinist of the distinguished Colorado Quartet, asked me about a viola piece in 2007, I showed it to her. The first performance was the result.
El Andalus, written for Sharon Robinson by Katherine Hoover, is the Arabic name for Andalusia, an area of Spain with an unusual history. For several hundred years in the Middle Ages under Muslim caliphates (spiritual leaders of Islam), it was a center of great learning and culture, and a gathering place for Christian, Jewish and Muslim intelligentsia of Europe and the Middle East. Robinson,* having seen an article about this, asked if Hoover might somehow imagine a piece about this center of tolerance and light.
Traditional Arabic music, both secular and religious, is a sophisticated art form which is mostly improvised on involved scalar and formal patterns. It makes use of quarter-tones and slides, as well as modal materials familiar to the western ear. Its influence is clear in Jewish liturgical music, and also in some Eastern Orthodox Christian music. Hoover combined some of this kind of melodic material with sections that employ western harmonies, and there are rhythmic and formal influences from both traditions. There are also timbral sounds that have their origin in eastern instruments. The piece begins with a snippet of Gregorian chant and quickly moves into material with roots in both east and west.
Hoover's three movement Dancing begins with a light Arabesque, transitions to a Cortege with a brief cadenza section, and finishes with a driving Stomp finale. Dancing will be a satisfying addition to any program.