REFRACTION marks my longest compositional endeavor to date, and perhaps my most serious and introspective. The work is scored for clarinet, violin, ‘cello, and piano.
I.“Insomnia” opens with a manic exclamation of a dissonant six-note cell, from which nearly all of the ensuing material is derived. Predominately situated in an atonal context, the music here is furious, hard-driving, and relentless. A sense of anxiety pervades, pushing us forward full-throttle until an explosive conclusion drives us off the cliff.
II.“Lullaby” is crafted as a stark contrast to “Insomnia.” Here, the music is comparatively simple and placid, with a lulling melody supported by mellow harmonic progressions. Solos account for a bulk of the music here, with a special focus on the lyrical, sonorous qualities of the cello, in all its registers. By movement’s close we drift off to a restful sleep, our musical pulse rates having finally calmed down.
III.“Awakening” begins with animated, plucked strings and jagged rhythms, leading very quickly to the main theme, a Cuban montuno groove that recurs throughout the movement in a variety of guises. This is perhaps the most optimistic of the three movements, striding confidently along with abundant energy and a carefree spirit.
—Jules Pegram (2012)