The Tenderness, Light as Water
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Commissioned by Holly Roadfeldt
The Tenderness, Light as Water was commissioned by Stephanie Patterson and Holly Roadfeldt as a duo for bassoon and piano. Both Stephanie and Holly were looking for a lyrical work that would feature the two instruments in an equal partnership. With this goal in mind—and some musical inspiration from the bassoon solo that opens Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as well as various solo piano works I had heard performed by Holly (and other pianists) around the time I started composing—I wrote this duet. When I sent them the finished piece, Holly suggested I create a solo piano version as well, so the work now exists as both a duet and a solo.
The title comes from a line in Pablo Neruda’s gorgeous lament “Song of Despair.” Though the poem as whole expresses the narrator’s despair at the loss of a woman he loved, this particular line is one of poignant remembrance. It captures the love between the two using Neruda’s characteristically vivid imagery. I happened to read the poem while I was sketching ideas for the piece, and the line seemed to capture the emotion of the music beautifully.