for piano quartet (2006), 5′

Performed at the Music06/Accent06 Festival at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, June 2006, and at Indiana University, Oct. 2007.

Program note:

The Medieval ballade was one of the formes fixes (“fixed forms”) of the trouvères, a group of poet-composers of northern France who, like the troubadours, are best known for developing the theme of courtly love.

In the late fourteenth century, the ballade became the premier vehicle for the polyphonic songs of a group of composers centered around the papal court at Avignon. Their musical style, known as the ars subtilior (“more subtle art”), was notable for its rhythmic complexity, florid melody, and often intense chromaticism. In short, it was music for connoisseurs.

Fascinated with this strange and beautiful music, I decided to try my hand at composing a purely instrumental ballade, drawing upon elements of fourteenth-century style and melding them with my own musical language. The result, I believe, is a highly stylized modern representation of this antique genre, itself a stylized representation of an even earlier tradition—that of the trouvères.