Character Pieces

Character Pieces for viola and piano

Character Pieces for viola and piano is dedicated with much gratitude to my viola teacher, Hyun Sun (Gloria) Yoon, who renewed my love for this wonderful instrument. At an early stage of my studies, Gloria assigned Hindemith’s Schwanendreher as an exercise for shifting and hand position. I had always thought of the work as way beyond my technical abilities. (Perhaps it still is, but at least I can get my fingers around the notes.) As I started to learn the piece I realized that the shifts, fingering patterns, and hand positions lent themselves to the note sequences and overall pitch scheme of the piece. Instrumental technique and compositional process were intertwined to a very high degree. One can picture Hindemith composing, viola in one hand, and a pencil in the other. I endeavored to do the same in these Character Pieces. As I relearned the viola after a 35-year hiatus, I thought of the type of person that takes up this noble instrument. Certain personality traits seem common to the breed. This work explores a different attribute in each of the three movements.

Recording: Gloria Yoon, viola; Zhou Jiang, piano