Duration – 6:07
A Short Odyssey, for Cello and Piano (1996)
(Based on material from Journey, A Concerto for Cello and Orchestra)
Notes by Simon Fryer for the recording Music of a Life So Far…
Ron and I were both cellists beginning to make careers in Toronto when we met in 1989. As time went on he decided that composition was where his voice really lay and he enrolled at the University of Toronto. His thesis for his Master of Music degree was (perhaps not surprisingly) a cello concerto. Journey piqued my interest quite markedly and was accompanied by an equally engaging shorter version for cello and piano: A Short Odyssey. The compression of Journey into A Short Odyssey condenses the concerto into a finely balanced concert piece without losing any of the original’s drive and character. The musical environment is essentially tonal but Ron employs aspects of serial technique to create a quite individual language. There is an accessibility and attractiveness to the music (perhaps a latent influence from Ron’s years in the LA studios?) that I find irresistible. I have given several performances of Journey including the Canadian premiere and have been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from audiences and orchestras alike. Being a cellist himself, Ron has been able to judge very capably how the cello can best bring his music to life and has produced works of great verve with a rewarding capacity for expressiveness on the part of the performer.
Ron quotes Christina Georgina Rossetti’s poem Up-Hill on the title page of Journey—it is undoubtedly just as appropriate for A Short Odyssey:
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
“A Short Odyssey” was first performed on February 3, 1996 by Shauna Rolston, cello and Bernardene Blaha, piano, in Walter Hall at the University of Toronto, and was recorded for national broadcast by CBC radio.