An Angel Bowed Backward
for viola and piano (1988/91)
duration: 10’
GRT • 003

CD available
Greenbaum Hindson Peterson
Rodney Lovenfosse (viola), Glenn Riddle (piano)

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
The title of this work is taken from a poem by Ross Baglin, with whom the composer often collaborates:

An angel bowed backward
A fly's broken buzz,
Kindling crying
For the gasping flats
The thin brown cloth
That flares in screams,
An angel
Bowed backward
By a clip of light

The opening viola solo is constructed around a scale where each subsequent interval is a semitone greater than the last (minor 2nd, major 2nd, min 3rd, maj 3rd, perfect 4th). This scale gradually fans out and then folds into a chorale-like cadence. These two elements become fundamental components within an essentially asymmetrical jigsaw (though externally the piece could also be viewed as fast–slow–fast with a slow introduction and fast coda).

Rhythmically, the two fast sections are concerned with re–defining the same motivic material within different metrical groupings, sometimes in overt rhythmic modulation and at other times seeking to superimpose triple and duple groupings like an Escher sketch, which could be viewed back–to–front. The middle slow section represents the eye of the storm, and here motion is suspended rather than propelled.