= L’Esquisse d’un Sourire – Nigel Morgan

L’Esquisse d’un Sourire

For Violoncello and Piano

Bars 18-25.
This short piece is based on a poem by the composer that speaks of autumn and the quality of light and shade common to that season. The word Esquisse in the title has a double meaning in the French language  – a sketch and a hint. So the phrase ‘a hint of smile’ is un esquisse d’un sourire. This phrase forms the central line in the poem.


The music is built from two chords that constantly alternate throughout the work. In the first section these chords provide a gentle rocking motion. They explore different textural possibilities in the piano part accompanying a sustained cello line that weaves its way through the tenor and bass voices of the harmony. In the second section the cello becomes a gentle poetic voice playing the text of a poem like a free recitative against further reflective harmonies built from the two-chord source.

The Orangery gardens, Tim Lowe and Stephen Gutman

L’Esquisse d’un Sourire was composed for the cellist Tim Lowe and pianist Stephen Gutman to play at the opening event of the Wakefield Live Music Project at the Orangery, Wakefield on 7 October 2009.



Study score [pdf]

Reference recording [mp3]

Parts [zip]