Occasional Pieces
for violin and piano (2006)
duration: 20’
GRT • 122

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
These short pieces were written for various occasions – births, birthdays, deaths and marriages. They were conceived independently (as the occasions arose) and are collected here due to their common instrumentation. The pieces are either solos or duos for violin and piano as a consequence of my wife, Marianne Rothschild, being a violinist and the piano being an instrument I make occasional use of myself.

There are other occasional works for piano solo that are published separately including
Evocation, Portrait and Blues Hymn, Lavender for Hanna, For Oliver, Bagatelle for Aksel, and Spirals – the latter three found in Four Thoughts, for solo piano.

This collection ideally runs in the order published, though any individual piece or subset of pieces may be played in their own right if desired.

1: How to be in the World
2: Life Cycles
3: For Alette
4: The 4th Saturday in April
5: Curves on the Great Ocean Road
6: The Lake and the Hinterland

Stuart Greenbaum’s six Occasional Pieces are just that: bagatelles written for two specific birthdays, as well as a birth-day, a funeral, a marriage and the last of the set (and longest) serving as a wedding gift.   How to be in the world makes for pleasant listening, Rothschild’s violin operating in a high register for the most part, with inescapable shades of Vaughan-Williams’ lark, some small jazz interpolations disrupting the idyllic sweetness.  The lament of Life Cycles emerges as a violin solo; a slowly striding line, generally diatonic in matter, punctuated by some Celtic-style skirling and a series of ‘snaps’.   For Alette begins with brisk pizzicato that moves to a rising scale motive with Riddle’s eloquent piano doubling the string line until the ternary shape is finished off with a sparser version of the opening gestures.  Ideas follow each other in quick succession during The 4th Saturday in April piano solo, which offers no real development but maintains an optimistically major tonality, appropriate for this small-scale epithalamium.   Another violin solo, Curves on the Great Ocean Road, proposes a pattern of self-reflecting turns, nowhere near as unsettling as the real thing, but its central section has intimations of the drive’s rugged terrain. Finally, The Lake and the Hinterland revisits the British early 20th century folk music arena with a broad tune treated in turn by both instruments, a dour middle interlude, before a reversion to the Midsomer landscape.  Some spikiness interferes with the prevailing harmonic sweetness but the piece concludes in an unambiguous D Major.
Clive O’Connell, O’Connell the Music, 13 July 2016