Samuel, Rhian: Mist on the Hills. Accordion and String Quartet
Score and Parts
Such is the character of the accordion that any work featuring its distinctive voice within an ensemble is likely to be a pièce d’occasion. Written for the prizewinning young soloist Milos Milivojevic and performed with the Juritz String Quartet at the 2011 Machynlleth Festival in Wales, Rhian Samuel’s Mist on the Hills is no exception. The composer has used the rare opportunity of writing for the instrument in combination with solo strings to exploit its illustrative powers and create a fourteen-minute score inspired by the changing weather over the hills around her Welsh home on the Dyfi Estuary.
In particular, its three movements are suggestive of the appearance of mist in the landscape, ‘settling’, ‘lingering’ and ‘swirling’. In the first movement, which is a gentle prelude, brief accordion motifs break through the timbre of strings like glints of sunshine through mist. The second movement, more song-like, presents three verses of a lament; in the first half of each verse the accordion sings as if from afar, while in the second half (led by the viola) the music intensifies greatly. In the dance-like and virtuosic last movement a short, constantly changing refrain alternates with two types of material: ‘swirling’ music and lighter, more rhythmical ideas. Finally, scale passages invade the texture, ceasing only as the accordion ascends to the top of its range in the closing bars.