Trio Rustica (1989) by Walter Winslow
for flute, clarinet, and cello
World premiere; Earplay commission

I. Airs and Zephyrs
II. Tunes and Excursions

Trio Rustico was written for Earplay as a commissioned work in the fall of 1989 while I was a composition Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. While there I had a studio in the Casa Rustica, a curiously shaped stone building with tile roof that was located in the back of the Academy garden. The ambience of this place and the multifold impressions of Rome bore fruit in the title and the subtitles of the movements. For example, the "airs and zephyrs" which literally cooled us on the Gianicolo hill as they blew from the sea in the early afternoon seemed appropriate to describe the emergence, statement and transformation of the various lyrical themes and their accompanying motives in the first movement. A large-scale ABA design is the stage for the interplay of the various subsections. The tunes of the second movement are clear enough. The movement begins with a theme of well- defined phrases. The excursions happen on the way as variations unfold. Much is familiar — a sense of acceleration as the variations proceed, use of devices such as cantus firmus (played by the cello in the fourth variation: a simplified version of the theme accompanied by texture recalling the first movement), but, like many excursions arising from tradition, what is of most interest are the ways in which the familiar can be made to seem unexpected.

[from program for February 5, 2001 concert]