Karim Al-Zand: Music: Hollows and Dells

Hollows and Dells

for viola & piano

Hollows and Dells was written for English violist Ivo-Jan van der Werff. The title is taken from an evocative line by Vladimir Nabokov: “…the hollows and dells of memory, over which the sun of my infancy has set.” The piece springs from some of my own formative musical memories, particularly those from the school I attended for most of my childhood. Though the boarding school was in Canada, its music, atmosphere and traditions felt very British (or at least how I imagined British private schools to be). imageOur music classes sang a steady repertoire of folksongs from the British Isles. Perhaps most memorable to me was our spirited renditions of Green Grow the Rushes, Ho!, a lively “stacking song” in which every new verse is appended to the one before. (The holiday carol The Twelve Days of Christmas uses this same structure.) The first movement of Hollows and Dells, “I’ll sing you one, oh!,” borrows the cumulative form of that song, and contains a few veiled references to its folk inspiration. The second movement “O still, small voice” is a musical reflection on my favorite Anglican hymn, a congregational anthem we sang at our daily morning chapel services. Dear Lord and Father of Mankind is set to the tune Repton, a charming and graceful melody credited to English composer Hubert Parry. Fragments of the tune can be heard throughout this short musical fantasy. The last movement bridges the musical traditions of Great Britain and America (much like the piece’s dedicatee). It is a raucous “reel” that draws on old time fiddle traditions and idioms, both Irish and Appalachian, to create a rousing dance finale.


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12 minutes

viola, piano

Ivo-Jan van der Werff

1. I’ll sing you one, oh! [stacking song]
2. O still, small voice [fantasy on Repton]
3. Reel en rondeau [fiddle dance]

December 8, 2013, | Ivo-Jan van der Werff, viola | Simon Marlow, piano


1. I’ll sing you one, oh! [stacking song]
2. O still, small voice [fantasy on Repton]
3. Reel en rondeau [fiddle dance]