From the edge of mist (1999 rev. 2010)

9 min.

From the edge of mist for solo cello was written during a short period in the summer of 1999, in tandem with my first string quartet, as a way of channeling ideas that resembled the quartet’s handling of material, but didn’t fit in with its more forward-driving nature. Funny then, that the vehicle I created for these “junk” ideas should have been the piece I would end up keeping, when the far longer and more elaborate quartet was withdrawn after a long-delayed first performance. The form of the piece is rhapsodic, essentially a set of double variations around the group of ideas heard in the introduction, and the quotation that grows out of it of a favorite tune of mine, the Scottish Highland ballad Chì mi na mórbheanna (“The mist-covered mountains”). The title, of course, refers to the song, as well as to the hazy boundaries between the various sections of the piece. From the edge of mist carries with it a tone of longing for home, a legacy, perhaps, of the song’s words, but speaks more of my own status living far and away from the lands of my birth. Appropriately, the piece was premiered abroad by Canadian cellist Andrea Lysack, another current expatriate, and revised for the present recording at the request of Vernon Regehr. It is thus dedicated to both of them, in memory of the times we shared, and the distances we have crossed since.