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Pritchard: Duo with a Young Girl
‘Young Girl’ of the title is from the old English dance tune ‘The Nutting
Girl’, with which I first became acquainted when another young girl, my twelve
year old daughter, played it to me on the violin.
immediately attracted by the tune’s freshness and originality (it is
remarkable long and artfully constructed for a folk tune) I felt decidedly
hesitant when the idea first occurred to me to use it in a composition, having
never been attracted to musical quotation or parodistic techniques. The problem
was solved when it became clear to me that this particular tune would best be
left exactly as it stands; subjecting it to any kind of technical transformation
would rob the Nutting Girl of her most valuable quality, her innocence.
But that very quality, set against the two contrasted musical materials
which constitute the main musical substance of the piece (one free and
colouristic, the other stricter, percussive and aggressive) offered some
fascinating avenues to explore compositionally.
the course of the piece the folk tune makes three appearances, the first being
only a hint of the opening phrases. At the second appearance (in the piano) the
Nutting Girl is clothed in somewhat academic attire, her only protection against
a highly abrasive assault from the viola; and although she has to depart rather
abruptly her innocence remains undefiled. The third time we meet her is at the
end of the piece where she is presented (in two different tempi simultaneously)
without any significant changes to her basic nature, set against bell-like
sounds in the piano part.
Duo with a Young Girl was composed in 1980 to a commission by the viola player Philip Clark with funds from South West Arts. It was first performed in 1981 in Auckland, New Zealand by Philip Clark and Brian Sayer