Prelude Fugue and Riffs

Genre: Instrumental

Mood: Cheerful

Forces: Cello, Piano

Length: 16 Minutes


Prelude Fugue & Riffs (2002) – for cello and piano, 16’.

Sheet Music

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Prelude, Fugue and Riffs played by cellist Elizabeth Moore and Clifford Benson, piano.

Programme notes

Prelude Fugue & Riffs (2002)
Programme note © F L Dunkin Wedd

When it was near to completion I reorganised this piece (originally in four movements) and borrowed the nicely subversive title from the pièce de resistance Bernstein wrote for Benny Goodman.
It opens in slow declamatory style; the piano is relegated to simple accompanying chords with the cello part giving its expressiveness full rein. When Prelude gives way to Fugue (not strictly a fugue!), the pianist’s two hands and the ‘cello are treated as three contrapuntal voices.
The offbeat character of the fugal theme anticipates the riffs that follow. In proper contrapuntal style we also hear it played upside down; backwards; upside down AND backwards - there’s even stretto; but the musically academic mood is at most semi-serious. The pianist’s two hands and the cello swap parts back and forth, and the harmony wanders about too. Contrasting with the counterpoint is a triplet figure on which piano and cello agree, with a Mozartian piano trill, which leads to the final section.
The first riff is an offbeat little number which would not be out of place on a Black Sabbath album; the piano plays electric guitar chops over it. A calmer section leads to another offbeat riff which changes the key. A third riff leads us back to riff one, and then we’re into yet another mood, with the cello playing the first riff as a melody over semiquavers arpeggios that might be Bach - or might be Mike Oldfield; then the cello takes over the semiquavers and the piano gets the tune. They swap back, and come to a throw-away climax together.

F L Dunkin Wedd
Tonbridge Kent


First performance:
1 February 2003, Elizabeth Moore and Clifford Benson, Tudeley, Kent.