…água e sombra (2010) (…water and shadow ) is inspired by the poetry of Al-Mu’tamid (Beja, 1040-1095), the great king-poet from the Al-Andalûs. The title is derived from the poem “Os cortiçóis” ( “The Sandgrouses”) written while imprisoned during the last years of his life.
When Spanish virtuoso percussionist Miquel Bernat asked me to write an étude for him, he approached our collaboration with a specific technique in mind. This étude is built upon a very particular and challenging mallet technique, in which each individual mallet – of the four used by the performer – demonstrates independence within a block–chord texture.
The piece has a mirror-like formal structure in which two main sections – representing “water” – frame a set of variations. This structure creates an effect of shadowing, or reflection. While the “water” element is linked to the block-chord textures performed at the original, slower tempo, the fragmented echoing shadows are linked to the second, faster tempo. These two tempi are interspersed throughout the piece.