Sinfonietta (2013) (7′)

Jacob Walls, conductor

11.19.13 Beall Hall, Eugene, Ore.
[The version on Soundcloud uses a revised ending recorded in 2014 at the Atlantic Music Festival.]


This “sinfonietta,” or small symphony, for sixteen instrumentalists inscribes a musical terrain that is at once angular and incisive, yet also warm and familiar. The concise contrapuntal dialogue that begins the piece gives rise to a driving, motoric passage integrating counterpoint with ostinato. Some later passages continue this integration, while others focus on one technique alone. Following the final hard-driving moment, the piece concludes with a series of sparsely scored but still very incisive passages, the last for contrabass and marimba with sparse wind accompaniment.

Sol de invierno

Sol de invierno (2013) (4′)

Estelí Gomez, soprano; Diana Rosenblum, cello; Jacob Walls, trumpet

I appreciate how in Unamuno’s sonnet, the speaker not only describes a beautiful scene of a winter sun as it appears to him, but he also suggests how that image reverberates within his own spirit.

The use of a trumpet and cello might appear eclectic, but in my piece the instruments partner, each one making use of its subdued colors as well as its harsh ones, just as a winter sun is often subdued yet sometimes curiously harsh when viewed at its most direct angle.

Miguel de Unamuno (Spanish, 1864-1936) from Rosario de sonetos líricos (1911)

Sol de invierno

Oh sol de invierno que por el ramaje
desnudo de verdores el tesoro
nos ciernes, pío, de la sangre de oro
con que tras de las siestas el celaje

enciendes engañándonos; ropaje
eres común con que se abriga el coro
de los pobres, y cumples el aforo
de la vida al que rinde vasallaje

á la triste vejez. Oh sol clemente
que das al hielo brillo diamantino,
sé mi consuelo tú cuando mi frente

doble á la tierra, mi último destino,
y envuelve en el rojor de tu poniente
de mi postrera noche el buen camino.

Winter Sun

Oh winter sun whose treasure
sifts down through the bare branches
to us, with your pious golden blood
after our siestas you ignite

the clouded sky; your robes are
plentiful in which the poor masses
wrap themselves, and you fill up the
last measure of life for him who offers

up his will to sad old age. Oh merciful sun
who gives ice its diamantine brilliance,
be my consolation when my forehead

bends toward the earth, my ultimate fate,
and bathe the right path of my final night
in the red glow of your sunset.

translated by Jacob Walls
with coaching from Bob Gomez
(any remaining inconsistencies are mine alone!)