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Dry Leaves

Rodney Sharman, Dry Leaves, (2005) for 11 instruments (2 trumpets in Bb, 2 trombones, piano, percussion, 2 violins, viola, ’cello, doublebass)

Chamber music is often a forum for a composer’s more intimate concerns. In this work, I go more deeply into a lifelong preoccupation with instrumental colour, specifically the blurring of artificial distinctions between harmony and timbre. The title, Dry Leaves, refers to this kind of timbral and harmonic mirage, as can be heard most obviously in the rustling sounds of strings and percussion which open the piece. The work also reflects my recent interest in the music of Franz Schubert. The title evokes his famous song,Dry Flowers, and the virtuoso set of variations for flute and piano built upon the work. There are neither quotations of Schubert’s music, nor parodies his musical vocabulary or style. The piece, though, does offer distorted reflections of the composer’s harmonic and formal moves.

Dry Leaves (2005), was commissioned by Vancouver New Music through the generosity of the Canada Council Music Commissioning Program. The piece is dedicated to VNM’s Artistic Director, Giorgio Magnanensi. My special thanks, too, to the Gaudeamus Foundation, Amsterdam, and to Barbara Ebbeson of Gabriola Island, B.C., for providing studio space during the composition of this piece.

- Rodney Sharman

INSTRUMENTATION: 2 trumpets in Bb, 2 trombones, piano, 1 percussion (marimba, cabassa, 2 medium gongs, low tam-tam, bass drum), 2 violins, viola, ’cello, doublebass


DURATION: 8 minutes, 30 seconds

PREMIERE: Jan 22, 2005, Vancouver Playhouse, Vancouver