Borrowed and Original Techniques in the Trio by Leonid Hrabovsky
Keywords:avant-garde, proportional notation, extended instrumental technique, timbral and textural parameters, pitch, micro-series, classical forms, melody
Relevance of the study. During several years that preceded the creation of the Trio (1964), Leonid Hrabovsky wrote many other works in various genres and forms, ranging from suites and a sonata for solo instruments, a song cycle, and a cappella choruses, to large-scale compositions for orchestra and for mixed choir with orchestra, and even two one-act operas (piano scores). The composer’s stylistic priorities had been rapidly and strikingly evolving from “social realism with a human face” as evident in the Four Ukrainian Songs, towards a much more radical “sharp” expressionism and constructivism. This evolution caused the necessary changes in the techniques utilized by the composer. Hrabovsky was deeply impressed by the article Genealogia nowej muzyki (Genealogy of the new music) of the Polish musicologist Tadeusz Zieliński that was published in the magazine Ruch muzyczny, n. 20–21, 1963. Zieliński stated that, after historical periods of monody, polyphony and functional harmony, a new sonoric and timbral era had come. These ideas inspired Hrabovsky to move towards the radical avant-garde.
The object of this research is the Trio by Leonid Hrabovsky.
The purpose of the study is to reveal the inherent features that differentiate the piece from other avant-garde works of the early 1960s.
Methods of research include technical analysis of the musical form and its dependence upon the pitch organization of the work, as well as comparative analysis.
The results and conclusions. Being composed during several days in the spring of 1964, Trio became the first piece of Hrabovsky’s written in a definitely avant-garde style. It was premiered in 1966 and since then has become one of the composer’s most frequently performed works. The reason for such a success lies in the original concept of the piece that essentially differs from the other avant-garde works of that time. When discussing Trio, Hrabovsky always stresses the influence of the Polish avant-garde music attracting him during that period. Indeed, he borrowed a lot of devices from Miniatures for violin and piano by Krzysztof Penderecki, a score Hrabovsky knew and studied at that time. However, a comparative analysis of the two works reveals serious differences between them. While Penderecki operated with purely timbral (sonoric) objects and did not pay special attention to the pitch organization, Hrabovsky composed almost a classical three movement suite with the first movement in a ternary form and the last movement in the binary form. The classical principles of the pitch organization and the distribution of the pitch structures in Trio are similar to those in tonal music. These principles have been unusually applied to the sound material that has nothing in common with tonality. A combination of the traditional and new approaches to the form provided Hrabovsky’s Trio with unique qualities which made it not only an interesting artifact of the avant-garde period but one of the most valuable and artistically perfect works in the Ukrainian chamber music.
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