The Huldufólk or Hidden Folk (sometimes called Elves) are part of the folklore of Iceland. Similar to the traditions of many countries, they represent beings that live in a different or parallel dimension from us. It is sometimes thought they were once a part of our dimension, but departed, leaving us all the poorer. But there are stories of humans stumbling upon doorways into their world and disappearing for a time. It is also believed that Huldufólk, being fond of music, will often “borrow” a human fiddle player, for their seasonal revels. Being a lover of Tolkien and such stories, this piece is my reflections on these legends.
-- Will Ayton
Clear directive from the composer is delightfully absent, leaving interpretation decisions up to the performers. The composer admits, “When playing my own music, I often change my mind about breath marks and dynamics etc. So perhaps it is better if the players make their own decisions about such things. One point that may help in deciding when to breathe: most of the phrases of this piece fall into the traditional four-measure structure.” Indeed, the phrases reveal themselves to players who listen. Slight stretching of time occurs at measures 8, 44 and 72, with different voices pausing on different beats within those measures. Players should be particularly aware of each other during those moments.
At measure 45 the time changes from cut time to 6/8, increasing the pacing slightly as the value of the eighth-note remains constant; the two pulses per measure shorten from four eighth-notes long to three. A return to the opening theme in cut time at measure 73 relaxes the tempo for a gentle ending with the Tenor alone on the last note.
Four equal voices form a flowing contemplative monologue, perhaps while meandering alone through the woods along a desolate trail. The light technical demands of this piece allow players of all levels to enjoy making beautiful sounds unburdened by complex hurdles. Occasional surprise harmonies bring forth the imagery of the mythical people living just out of sight, reaffirming their elusive existence with controlled dissonances and resolutions. Separate parts as well as playalong recordings with one part missing are available for ARS members at www.americanrecorder.org.
-- Glen Shannon