Universal Edition - Luke Bedford – Chiaroscuro

Luke Bedford

Year of composition: 2002/2005
Scored for: for violin, violoncello and piano
Composer: Luke Bedford
Instrumentation details:

Commissioned by: Commissioned for the Gould Piano Trio by Richard Phillips, director of the Stratford upon Avon & District English Music Festival, with funding from West Midlands Arts Regional Arts Lottery Programme. Premiered by the Gould Trio on 16 October 2002 at the Civic Hall, Stratford.
Duration: 8′
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Audio Excerpt


World Première

Location: Civic Hall Stratford-Upon-Avon / Great Britain
Date: 16.10.2002
Main Soloists: Gould Piano Trio

Work Introduction

Chiaroscuro is an elegiac andante, the basic mood and tempo unchanging from beginning to end. The piano introduces a Lied-like motif, which the three instruments vary and commentate in the course of the piece. Initially, the motif sounds in the bass clef but during the first half of the composition it wends its way higher and higher, the violin and cello gradually leaving the piano’s field to achieve a fortissimo in short, passionate outbursts. The piano follows them; at the climax, all three instruments play with all their might until the piano suddenly abandons its rhythmic pattern, playing only fragments of the motif subito piano until the instruments’ original role assignments return and the piece ends pianissimo.

Chiaroscuro refers to the contrast between light and dark in painting. This is reflected in the music in the differences between the opening, where the strings merely shadow the piano lines, and the final section, where they play expressive melodies in quarter-tones, something impossible on a normal piano. The harmony of the piece is created by mixing various combinations of major and minor chords, so that there is a constant shift between stable and more mutable areas. Similarly, much of the piece is in an uneven 11/16 time signature, again creating an effect that the ground is not entirely stable underneath.


- Chiaroscuro

  • for violin, violoncello and piano

- Chiaroscuro

  • for violin, violoncello and piano

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