The wine-dark sea V

by Matthew Whittall

for piano

Empty sheet

Matthew Whittall

The wine-dark sea V


Mediterranean looms large in my family history and genealogy. Learning
the mythology of Greece and Turkey as a child through books and bedtime
stories, I came to associate this body of water with mystery, no small
amount of adventure and, despite my strong physical and psychological
attachment to the North, a distant, muted sense of ultimate home. As I
draw primarily on landscape for creative impetus, during a trip to the
region in 2007, I expected to find in the lands of my ancestors a potent
new source of ideas.

Although the vistas were arresting and beautiful, they did not
resonate in me on a deep level. What I – a northerner by more than birth
and temperament, it would seem – was allowed to carry away from that
trip were merely fond recollections of a foreign place, profoundly
“other” from my experience: the iconic, archetypal “Mother Sea” and its
numberless shades of blue, the quality of the sunlight, the smell of
flowers and herbs in the air. These are the impressions informing The
wine-dark sea, a dreamlike postcard written after the fact, through a
haze of memory. I could add to this a feeling of blissful honeymoon

This new version, made for my friend Risto-Matti Marin, in a way
brings the piece full circle back to its roots in North American
postminimalism. Previous incarnations, having made use of early
instruments, or instruments with folk origins like
the Baltic kantele
family, have carried a sense of the contemporary overlaying a deeper
antiquity, a fundamentally Old World sound. Adapting it for piano, it
suddenly dawned on me how New World the basic musical material was, and
that, however great the temporal or geographical remove, one can never
fully leave one’s origins behind.




Works for Solo Instrument


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