(2016) – Flute, Viola and Harp
Commissioned by the Aurora Trio with funds from the RVW Trust, Six takes on Tosca is a set of six variations on a theme from Puccini’s Tosca (Act II, Scene I), where a trio of flute, viola and harp provide the impression of a nearby orchestra performing a quaint gavotte.
The idea to write a set of variations on this theme was suggested to me by Joe Bronstein (Viola), and after a somewhat cautious period I began to engage with the material on a miniature-motivic level, expanding or improvising on small fragments.
Though initially the music seemed circumstantial, I found on closer inspection that it contained certain thematic tags from the wider opera, such as the three descending bass-notes of the curtain raiser (Bb-Ab-E). The variations eventually turned out as a kind of commentary on important material from the opera, where much of the dramatic context of the opera fed my approach. The glamorous and possessive nature of Tosca, the jealousy of both Tosca and Scarpia, Angelotti’s escape and refuge, and the generally highly charged atmosphere of the opera all made they’re mark.
All in all I hoped to create a kind of synthesis between my own compositional approach, the classical charm of the theme, and the dramatic context of the opera.
Six takes on Tosca was first performed by the Aurora Trio on 8th March, 2016 at Dublin City University.