Samuel, Rhian: Shards of Light. Solo Violin
Shards of Light is dedicated to György Pauk, and is of Grade 8 to diploma standard. The contrast between its atmospheric main idea of fleet, ethereal figurations high on the E-string and more spiky and aggressive material suggests the image of its title, in music contemporary in sound yet accessible in feeling.
Like other instrumental works by Rhian Samuel, Shards of Light combines exciting instrumental virtuosity with a strongly poetic impulse, and is a most effective addition to the repertoire of new violin music, whether as an examination test-piece or as recital material.
One continuous movement juxtaposes extremely contrasting sections. The virtuosity is in the textural detail. The bow, used initially as an impressionist painter’s brush — the pianissimo sul tasto — at other moments cuts like a diamond through a glittering extended fortissimo central toccata. Beauty of sound is always paramount. Surprisingly, despite the title, nowhere is the instrument required to produce a brittle sound or play ponticello. Nuances of articulation, particularly grace notes, are explored in a freer rhapsodic section, equivalent to a cadenza, and finally the piece shrinks, almost Webern-like, to a distillation of the music into its significant fragmentary intervals.
Michael Schofield, Sheet Music Review