Elegy and Fantasie

Chamber Music, Strings/9'/Difficulty - Medium/1989, 1991

for violin and piano

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I wrote the second movement of this work, “Fantasie,” when I was 15. It was then the third movement of a sonata for violin and piano. The summer before I started college, I wrote “Elegy,” finishing it during freshmen orientation week at the Cleveland Institute of Music. I revised “Fantasie” shortly thereafter, and put the two movements together to form this piece.

Unfortunately, “Elegy” doesn’t sound much like me anymore. The same rhythmic sound is there, but the harmonies here are much more interesting than what I come up with now. I think my ear actually lost ground after writing this. “Fantasie,” on the other hand, sounds like a combination of me (with loads of insistent ostinatos) and Samuel Barber, particularly the last movement of his piano concerto and the last movement of his violin concerto, both of which I’m sure I must have been listening to a lot when I wrote “Fantasie.” The middle section is all just major7 chords, and it’s a bit cheese-ball to me now (I was 15, after all), but the last 30 seconds of the piece are pretty fun.

This work received its premiere in December of 1991, performed by Soovin Kim (violin) and Ning An (piano). The recording below is of the world premiere performance. Both performers were only 15 years old at the time. Soovin went on to win top prize at the Paganini International Violin Competition at age 20. Ning has since soloed with every orchestra from the Cleveland Orchestra to the London Symphony. They’re both superstars now, and you could tell on this recording – again, when they were both only 15 – that they would be huge.