I know… it’s been a while… But I have an excuse – because I’m getting married next week!!!!!!! Woo-hoo! 🙂
But I did want to put this up officially while I was thinking about it…
My latest completed work, Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie, is meant to be a jaunty comedic work, based on a lesser-known tale from the famous Brothers’ Grimm. Growing up reading these fairy tales, this very brief and repetitive dialogue always caught my fancy. The “story” focuses on our hero, Pif-Paf-Poltrie, who is out to seek the hand of his beloved, the Fair Katrinelje, in marriage. Being the gentleman that he is, he approaches in turn each member of his beloved’s family to ask their permission. Father Hollenthe, Mother Malcho, Brother High-and-Mighty, and Sister Käsetraut all respond in turn similarly – essentially, “If it’s all right with everyone else, it’s all right with me.”
I’ve always loved the cyclical nature of the text, how each family member’s response to our hero’s request is always the same as the one before it and maintains a certain rhythmical persistence throughout – you can almost hear the speaker becoming more weary and desperate with each stanza! [Take a look at the full text here.] Needless to say, when approached with the assignment of writing a vocal work for soprano, piano, flute, and cello, this long-beloved text came to mind!
My musical inspiration was stimulated largely by the compositional genius of Stravinsky; firstly as a result of my preparation of the violin part of his L’Histoire du Soldat for an upcoming performance at the time, and secondly, through my charmed admiration of a little setting of his for soprano and piano of The Owl and The Pussycat. Thus there is a quirky charm about the music in my Fair Katrinelje piece that brings out the off-kilter humor of the Grimms’ tale, and it really sets the mood of the whole work nicely!
Needless to say, this piece is very different from my usual style, but for that, and for the childhood memories it evokes for me, this is a little gem that I enjoy very much.