Krummholz Variations is a tone poem that recalls aspects of life in the alpine zone, expressed through a set of short, connected variations: Dawn, Marmots, Alpine Meadow, Ptarmigan, The Summit, Headwaters, Cloudburst and Dusk. Krummholz, German for “crooked wood,” are twisted trees that serve as gateways to the alpine zone and mountaintop sentinels. These stunted trees are shaped through constant exposure to severe weather and treasured for their unique deformities. High altitude landscapes are a paradigm for beauty in the face of harshness, filled with moments of joy and serenity that blossom amidst extremes.
A consortium of 12 ensembles commissioned Krummholz Variations as a companion piece for Igor Stravinsky’s beloved Octet. The Stravinsky composition, a seminal work in the wind-brass chamber repertoire, deploys an unusual instrumentation (flute, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets and 2 trombones). There was a need for additional music that could readily be programmed alongside it.