Much of my recent music is intended as a ticket to a psychological journey. Often taken without pause, these journeys are meant to come full circle, paradoxically ending in the same place but seen from a different perspective.

Troika, was composed in the Fall of 1989 (completed on Halloween) at the special request of Tamara Field. The unusual combination of English horn, clarinet, cello and piano, suggested a rather dark, wintry landscape to me. In fact, the image that first came to mind--and that which I attempted to convey throughout the work--was of a dark snowy night spent in a horse-drawn sleigh. From this image I fantasized a story of sorts that put me as a child in a troika (horse-drawn sleigh) crossing a frozen winter lake somewhere in the mountains of Europe during the second World War. I had a vision of being held-safe and protected-in my father’s arms as we crossed the lake. The allusion to Schubert’s Erlkönig came to mind, as the journey crystallized in my consciousness. As in the Schubert, while we traveled into the snowy night something dark and frightening surrounded and threatened us (an allusion to the time period perhaps), but unlike the outcome in Goethe’s poem, we managed to travel through the danger to the safety of a warm and welcoming hotel on the other side of the lake. These images were much in my mind as I worked on the piece. Although the opening, more comforting, music returns near the end of the work, there is a subtle change in tone that suggests a shift in consciousness. We’re back where we started, but our perspective is different because of what we’ve been through.

Cast in a single movement, the piece calls for virtuosic chamber-music expertise from all four players, and is dedicated to Tamara Field.

Selected Performances of Troika

Preview: Tamara Field and Chicago Lyric Players, L’Anse, MI

Premiere: September 17, 1989, Tamara Field, with players from Chicago Lyric Opera, The Chicago Temple, Chicago, IL

April 28, 1991, Tamara Field with the Timberland Chamber Players, Crystal Falls, MI

November 3, 1991, Tamara Field, English horn, Frank Corliss, piano, Jan Pfeiffer, ‘cello, and Richard Shaughnessy, clarinet, on the 1991-1992 Parlor Recital Series at the United Parish in Brookline, MA

© John Carbon 2015