2019 oboe, clarinet duration: 8 minutes
Written for Pleasant Street Players Ian Davidson and Vanguel Tangarov, colleagues at the Texas State School of Music, Sur la Neige is a snow fantasy on three quoted musical ideas. The work begins with an obscure quote from Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, elaborated and then transitioning into a quote from Debussy’s Prelude No. 6 in his Préludes, Book I. Eventually, a small decorative figure from Janácek’s Sinfonietta appears and quickly disappears like a scurrying bystroušky (fox).
Two memories of walking in the snow stand out in long-term memory. In about 1965, one recreation of a restless Michigan teenager on winter nights was to put on boots and parka and hike through snow-covered fields and forest in the moonlight. In 1992, my composer friend Arnost Parsch led me on a walk into the logging forest above his Moravian village, Bílovice nad Svitavou. Through late-fall snowflakes, we retraced the steps of Janácek, passed the natural-spring well and the Sokol tavern up to a beautiful promontory view of the snow-covered village below.