• Helen Grime
  • Snow and Snow (2012)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Snow and Snow was commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival on its 40th anniversary.

  • cl/pf/va
  • 9 min

Programme Note

Snow and Snow takes its title and starting point from the poem by Ted Hughes. Although the piece is not programmatic, the striking images of fragility and beauty together with the enigmatic nature of snowfall in the poem, struck a resonance with me.

The piece falls into three movements, the second and third continuing without a break. The second movement forms a sort of centrepiece to the work with the outer movements almost functioning as an introduction and postlude to the central section. The musical material is developed and refracted in a myriad of ways throughout the three movements with the result that the piece could almost be heard as one larger movement.

The piece begins with a tentative duet for clarinet and viola. The two instruments are constantly overlapping and imitating each other, at times breaking into canon-like figures. This is a feature which characterizes the work as a whole: the clarinet and viola forming a unit set against the contrasting nature of the piano. The music is delicate and very quiet and silence forms an important part in establishing the fragile mood struck in the poem. After a scurrying exchange of faster figures, the piano enters with in a more soloistic manner. At first the duo and piano are quite separate, eventually overlapping and coming together towards the end of the movement.

The second movement opens with an extended solo for piano. Here the piano acts as a constant throughout with much more rhythmic regularity. The clarinet and viola form melodies, which hang from the piano texture, marking different tempos and creating intricate, cumulating patterns against it. The music shifts and moves through various moods, a virtuosic piano cadenza paving the way into a faster moving, agitated section before the three instruments come together in their closest form in an extended melodic section.
Coming out of the closing piano figures of the second movement, the last movement acts as a sort of distant postlude, revisiting and drawing on the themes and ideas of the piece.

© Helen Grime, 2012