Spanish for the color blue, Azul is a two-movement work that explores the contemplative mood of the vast icy-blue glaciers of Antarctica (with the harsh, metallic sounds of crotales and vibraphone) and the infernal unpredictability of sapphiric flames (with blazing-fast tempos and tossed-around figures between the flute and marimba).
The title, Azul is simply Spanish for the color “blue.” The two movements represent two opposing incarnations of the color blue. The first movement, Cerulean Ice, features only metallic keyboard percussion and begins with fairly harshly struck unison 5ths in the crotales and vibraphone. The contemplative mood is meant to suggest the vast icy-blue glaciers of Antarctica. The second movement, Sapphiric Fire, utilizes only the marimba with the flute. The “infernal” tempo and constantly shifting meters/pulses represents the unpredictability of the element fire. It functions much like a rondo, insistently returning to the opening motivic materials, while also bringing in some elements from the first movement.
Also providing shaped and context for the work is the short, dark poem by Robert Frost, "Fire & Ice."
Fire & Ice by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
"Azul" was commissioned by the Apollo Duo (Stefanie Abderhalden, flute and Jeremy Johnston, percussion).
Grade Level: 4
Number of Players: 2
Listen to Recordings
Percussion (5-octave marimba, vibraphone, 2-octave crotales, optional sizzle cymbal)