What piece have you chosen?
Tea Leaves by Anna Clyne (from The Violin).
What’s special about this piece for you?
The Violin is a suite of seven short pieces for violin duet and pre-recorded track. It was written in the days leading up to the first anniversary of Clyne’s mother Colleen’s death. The whole suite is tender, contemplative and painfully melancholic, but for me the fifth movement, Tea Leaves particularly stands out. Framed by Clyne reading fragments of poetry written by her mother shortly before her death, the two violins take part in a constant dialogue: one line perpetually moving, meandering up and down as the other line’s sustained, sighing phrases soar above it. What I find special here is that Clyne combines these textures in such a way that while the motion is busy and persistent, the character of Tea Leaves remains reflective, unhurried and delicate.
What should we listen out for?
I highly recommend listening to Tea Leaves alongside Josh Dorman’s stop-motion animation¸ created in response to the suite. His mesmerising animations really complement the feelings of fragility and fleetingness evoked by Clyne’s music. Tea Leaves also quotes parts of the ‘Presto’ from Bach’s Violin Sonata no. 1 in G minor (BWV 1001) and there is a similar sense of motion here, too. However, when these fragments are combined with constantly shifting metres, modal harmonies and tentative, eery harmonics in the upper violin part, the effect is unique and ruminative.