Partita – Pastorale (After J.S.Bach)
This song sounds just like it’s title- pastoral. It’s very reminiscent of the classical orchestra without a traditional set form. The only instruments playing are the clarinet piano and the strings, unlike the traditional full orchestra. Mostly the high strings feature in this piece while the cello and bass play in the background. The song title automatically induces a connection with Bach, and I felt that it had a hint of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 5 development without the Baroque constant repetition, though it does have the Baroque contrast and dissonance.
The main feature of this song is the long sweeping notes contrasting to the quick rising and falling steps. The song seems to switch from major key to minor key and back to major key, giving a sense of uncertainty about whether this is a happy song or a sad song. It might have been a medley of songs, melted together to give a sort of question and answer quality. I heard it as a dialogue between an optimistic explainer and a pessimistic cynic.
Because of the title and the agreeability of the music with the title, I immediately set this song as something to hear in a grassy clearing. The first few notes, which are a very Beethoven way of announcing the beginning (think Symphony No.5), I imagined to be when the characters start stepping out into the clearing. Because it quickly escalates with vibratos and stray notes, the scene can be changed into something a little more cluttered, maybe a garden. Then a minor key develops in a few measures, the cynic steps into the pastel flowered garden. A frolicking tune is juxtaposed next introducing a cheerful, optimistic character, maybe a child. It is a party of two. Then begins the dialogue between the grumpy cynic and the wide-eyed endlessly questioning child.
Sometimes the cynic tells the optimistic child a dark scary story, accentuated by haunting steps on the piano and yawning strained notes on the clarinet. The optimist replies with violin notes full of awe and butterfly trills on the piano. The conversation continues, with the minor notes a little brighter, coming from the higher ranges of the clarinet and piano. The major notes become a little more serious, more mature, without any of the frolicking child we were introduced to at the beginning. The composer ends with the same vibrato and stray notes, a signal that the end of the day is near. A few last notes spark up as the scene fades to a nostalgic exit.