Book of Departures
for piano trio (2008)
duration: 10’
GRT • 141


CD available
800 Million Heartbeats

ABC Classics

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
This piece was originally commissioned by Marshall McGuire as a sextet for Sydney’s Sonic Art Ensemble. He noted that it would be the group’s final commission and the idea of a sort of ‘farewell symphony’ took hold. While mapping out the structure of the piece, I started thinking in terms of chapters (there are three of them, along with three bridges and an interlude – all in one movement). I also wanted to write music that would make an appropriate gesture towards an ensemble of musicians who have given so much to Australian contemporary classical music. So finally, the idea of a ‘book of departures’ distilled in my thinking. ‘Departure’ is an interesting word. It can denote sadness and nostalgia – but it can equally refer to the outset of exciting new journeys and in my mind this piece attempts to address both meanings. The current version for piano trio was adapted at the invitation of Melbourne’s Yarra Trio.

“Greenbaum's music regularly appears on Yarra Trio's programs, and two of his recent works were presented on this occasion. Both pieces are characterised by simple tuneful ideas that slowly unfurl against a backdrop of pulsing ostinatos. This initial simplicity turns out to be deceptive, as juxtapositions and developments create a multifaceted web of ingenious thematic and structural relationships.

The second Greenbaum work, Book of Departures, explored much of the same ground, but utilised a more complex structure. A strong refrain reoccurred several times as a kick-off point to the exploration of different musical landscapes. The last of these was the most effective, abruptly shooting off and offering only a tantalising glimpse of mysterious new territories."
Mark Viggiani, Resonate, September 2009

“Australian Composer Stuart Greenbaum wrote the fourth piece for the evening, “Book of Departures”. This is a beautiful and lyric work that features a shimmering piano part that was masterfully interpreted by Cassomenos. The piano part laid a solid foundation that in turn gave the strings a lot of flexibility to be lyrical and expressive. This was a great example of high quality original Australian Music and performance.”
Josh O’Connell, Goulburn Regional Conservatorium Reviews, June 2009

“Stuart Greenbaum’s Book of Departures conveyed the various elements of departure; the sadness of leaving, the excitement of the new adventure as well as ideas about change or digression. The music was a mixture of popular and classical which provided a capricious alternation between intensity and intimacy.”
John Daly-Peoples, The National Business Review (NZ), March 2010