Commissioned by Chee-Yun and Spoleto USA, Arches was premiered by Chee-Yun at Seoul Arts Center, Seoul Korea in October 2000. In its alternation between “caprices” and “arias”, the work moves between the poles of virtuosity and lyricism throughout. The title was suggested by the symmetrical form of the piece (Caprice—Aria—Caprice—Aria—Caprice) and by the key scheme which supports this symmetry and the many arch-like figures that arise. The only pause in the work occurs after the first Caprice.
I. Caprice. This movement, whose influences are both Baroque and Appalachian in nature, begins innocently enough and continually accelerates to a very fast tempo. It was inspired by a scene from the film The Red Violin (scored by John Corigliano) in which a young prodigy is pushed by his teacher to play an etude faster and faster until he is pressed to the absolute limit.
II. Aria. As a means of contrast to the busy first movement, this one begins very high and soft. It uses a melody to which I later added piano to create and encore (Air for violin).
III. Caprice/Intermezzo. This movement’s scherzando quality contrasts the heaviness of the two surrounding arias. It features effects like glissandi, pizzicato chords, and even left hand pizzicato.
IV. Aria. An abbreviated return of the melody from the second movement.
V. Caprice. The first music I came up with, this movement features the arpeggiando technique which involves the violinist moving the bow quickly up and down over all four strings of the instrument. This leads to a return of the material from the first movement and a very virtuosic end to the piece.