Casa Mila

for solo viola and piano trio

This single movement work for solo viola and piano trio takes as its inspiration an apartment block built in Barcelona between 1906-1910. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí who, like Will Alsop and Clough William-Ellis, was fascinated by the role of colour as an essential component of his buildings. ‘Colour is life’ Gaudi claimed, ‘ and we should not scorn this means of instilling life into our works’. Casa Mila the building is not the riot of fantastically elaborate colouration found on the exterior of many of Gaudí’s earlier works. It has an almost monochrome exterior of sculptured and textured stone resembling an undulating sea-cliff with caves. Inside, however, the courtyard windows, tiling and ceramic decorations are resonant with marine colours, and the forged iron balconies seem to take their cue from the sea life of shells and fish scales associated with the port of Barcelona. The building has an extraordinary sculpted roofscape, swirling and turning into totem-like chimneys and ventilators. Each of the six floors of the building has a unique internal design with an almost complete absence of straight lines.

As a musical structure Casa Mila reflects the building’s play of forms, shapes and decoration. It is a fantastical and daring; a play of melodic and rhythmic gestures that climb dramatically to an emphatic roof-scape toccata. Casa Mila is the second work Nigel Morgan has written for the Taiwanese violist HengChing Fang. Early in 2008 he created an extended single-movement duo called Treeness for viola and chamber organ. This was a commission from A-R Editions to illustrate a chapter by the composer in a forthcoming book on Music and Artificial Life.
Treeness was recorded in July 2008 by HengChing Fang with the organist Daniel Gordan. A scholar and performer HengChing Fang has revived many of the expressive techniques found in viola playing in the early 20C, notably in the performance practice of William Primrose and Lionel Tertis. As in the sections of Treeness, Casa Mila will provide further opportunities for her unique approach to expressive performance to come to the fore. Casa Mila is the final part of the Objects of Curiosity trilogy.