Air No. 4 for Violin and Piano

Carlos Barba; 02/26/19

Kevin Puts

Four Airs: No. 4 Air for Violin and Piano (2004)

Part of four independent instrumental works for flute, clarinet, violin, and cello with piano accompaniment.

I was instantly grasped and was fascinated by the beautiful balance of consonance and dissonance that Kevin Puts managed to achieve. There is so much peacefulness and intensity at the same time throughout this piece. The opening chords in the piano sound soothing, open, and tonal, but the calmness is soon interrupted by the striking dissonance of a split third chord in the low range. Puts does this quietly and in a very subtle way yet it has a strong effect. The piano played very rich harmonies in the low range, while the violin plays a beautiful and vigorous cantabile melody in a contrasting high range. Puts creates a confusing, yet interesting effect when the violin gets louder and more aggressive while the piano continues its mellow character. There is an on-going tension and release in dynamics, harmony, and range. 

The piece flows very naturally from section to section without any clear or obvious cadences. The first section can be characterized by the slow, thick chords in the piano accompaniment, and the loud and driving melody in the violin. The second section is definitely more dissonant. Even though the rhythm and texture did not change much at first, it was clear the tonal center was shifting. Harmonic and melodic ambiguity began to take over in a manner similar to the development section of a sonata. The piano played long pedals in the lower range and changing dissonant chords on the right hand. The violin transitioned into playing more rhythmic and shorter melodies with repeated rhythmic motives. The final section is characterized by the piano playing a repeated rhythm in the high range, which had not been used until this moment. The violin plays soothing cantabile melodies again and brings a sense of hope and peacefulness after hearing a dark and dissonant section. The piano eventually incorporates the low range while keeping the soothing and peaceful character. The sounds that are happening are mostly diatonic but there are a few surprises in harmony in the piano. It feels like a long, strikingly difficult journey that is coming to a successful conclusion. 

I really enjoyed the harmonies in the piano throughout this piece. Puts uses some chord qualities that were characteristic of the Romantic era, such as half-diminished seventh chords and fully diminished chords resolving a half-step down to the dominant chord of the key. Other harmonies resemble contemporary pop, film-music, or gospel. I repeatedly heard the sharp eleven extension on the violin’s melody while the piano played a major triad.  I enjoyed the harmonic surprises he delivered once in a while in the middle of a predictable diatonic progression. Most of these harmonic surprises were a type of mode mixture used very tastefully. I also enjoyed the various forms of interplay between the violin and the piano. They really complemented each other well in terms of range, dynamics, and character. I could feel how they pushed and pulled and eventually came together and then drifted back apart. The more I listened, the more I could hear the composer’s knowledge and understanding of both old and new musical traditions. The form of this piece is clearly ternary. Even though the main theme in the first section is not repeated, many sonorities are similar in the first and final sections. It definitely reminded me of the broad concept of sonata form. The instrumentation is also very traditional and has been commonly practiced in the Western tradition for hundreds of years. I do not know what Kevin Puts intended to convey in this piece but I definitely felt hope and beauty in the midst of chaos. 

The piece flows very naturally from section to section without any clear or obvious cadences. The first section can be characterized by the slow, thick chords in the piano accompaniment, and the loud and driving melody in the violin. The second section is definitely more dissonant. Even though the rhythm and texture did not change much at first, it was clear the tonal center was shifting. Harmonic and melodic ambiguity were beginning to take over in a manner similar to the development of a sonata. The piano played long pedals in the lower range and changing dissonant chords on the right hand. The violin transitioned into playing more rhythmic and shorter melodies with repeating rhythmic motives. The final section is characterized by the piano playing a repeating rhythm in the high range, which had not been used until this moment. The violin plays soothing cantabile melodies again and brings a sense of hope and peacefulness after hearing a dark and dissonant section. The piano eventually incorporates the low range while keeping the soothing and peaceful character. The sounds that are happening are mostly diatonic but there are a few surprises in harmony in the piano. It feels like a long a strikingly difficult journey that is coming to a successful conclusion. 

I really enjoyed the harmonies in the piano throughout this piece. Puts uses some chord qualities that were characteristic of the Romantic era, such as half-diminished seventh chords and fully diminished chords resolving a half-step down to the dominant chord of the key. Other harmonies resemble contemporary pop, film-music, or gospel. I repeatedly heard the sharp eleven extension on the violin’s melody while the piano played a major triad.  I enjoyed the harmonic surprises he delivered once in a while in the middle of a predictable diatonic progression. Most of these harmonic surprises were a type of mode mixture used very tastefully. I also enjoyed the various forms of interplay between the violin and the piano. They really complemented each other well in terms of range, dynamics, and character. I could feel how they pushed and pulled and eventually came together and then drifted back apart. The more I listened, the more I could hear the composer’s knowledge and understanding of both old and new musical traditions. The form of this piece is clearly ternary. Even though the main theme in the first section is not repeated, many sonorities are similar in the first and final sections. It definitely reminded me of the broad concept of sonata form. The instrumentation is also very traditional and has been commonly practiced in the Western tradition for hundreds of years. I do not know what Kevin Puts intended to convey in this piece but I definitely felt hope and beauty in the midst of chaos. 

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