Gwyneth Walker

By Land and by Sea

for Cello and Piano (2005)

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Download a PDF file of the cello part of this composition.

By Land and by Sea is a suite for cello and piano in three movements. It was written during Spring 2005, while the composer was traveling all across America to attend performances of her music. Thus, the title refers to travels of all sorts and the different methods of getting places.

The opening movement, "Setting Forth", begins with a quiet melody in the cello's lowest register. The energy builds, with textures marked "as the waves on the sea." A cadenza-like middle section (between the cello and piano) leads to the energetic material again before an excited conclusion in the cello's upper register.

The second movement, "One if by Land, Two if by Sea -- Choices" begins in a lively and playful manner. The two outer sections are bouncy in a triple meter, perhaps representing the temperament of land journeys. The middle section is more fluid, with wave-like patterns, representing a sea trek. The title of the movement is taken from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride." Revere too, in his famed ride, had faced these choices in his travel.

A peaceful interlude for the piano alone leads into the third movement, "Homecoming." This movement begins with a gentle, folk-like melody in the cello. This movement can be seen to represent the welcome arrival back home after long travels. After the reposed opening (perhaps the initial "rest" after arriving back home), the music gradually gathers energy towards a more playful section, perhaps recalling the joys and fond memories of the travel. The work the ends with an affirmative conclusion based on the opening melody -- the joys of being back at home in one's familiar surroundings.

Notes by Carson Cooman