Triptych I

for solo Baroque violin

Liz Dilnot Johnson

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for solo Baroque violin

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Composer Liz Dilnot Johnson
Year of Composition 2016
Duration ca.10'


Student Difficulty

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-lj1t1


Triptych I was composed in close collaboration with violinist Lucy Russell, who commissioned the piece and to whom the work is dedicated. Initially Lucy was given the opening musical line with the instruction to find ‘a Baroque way of playing it’. She responded with a wealth of extended ideas and improvisations along with an array of Baroque dance material which we then worked on together to form the finished piece.

Triptych I explores the left hand panel of the artwork by Dora Williams in which a simple, elegant line describes a female form. The use of colour on the canvas is mainly restricted to soft blues and greys, and the surface of the canvas is encrusted with decorative marks and patterns imprinted into the paint. The initial impact of the painting is one of beauty and simplicity; however, on close inspection some of the marks in certain areas of the painting are aggressive, chaotic and angry. These marks create an unusual juxtaposition with the classical form of the female figure that could have been painted centuries ago.

The music reflects these different qualities. The line becomes a lyrical melody; the soft colours become a series of flowing and sensuous chords; the surface decorations become ornaments, patterns and musical decorations. The music divides into three clear sections. The first section presents the melodic line along with the flowing chords. The second takes distinct musical styles from the Baroque era including Fantasias and dances such as Minuets, Gavottes and Gigues. Each dance is fragmented and the music leaps from one to the other until settling onto the most elegant of dances, the Sarabande. The final section returns to the melodic line, now set in a more contemporary sound-world.