No 1: Andante moderato
No 2: Allegro molto
The first piece is typical of Bloch’s lyrical style. Elements of counterpoint alternate with chordal passages; and the chromaticisms are always conceived within the context of tonality or modality. A relatively calm mood at the beginning and at the end contrasts with the violent intensity of the middle portion of the movement, the main theme of which recurs in the middle of the second piece, a vigorous perpetuum mobile in 6/8 time. Here, aside from a brief respite about half way through, the momentum is maintained by the use of rapidly repeated notes and chords, accents, and rhythms of ‘two against three’. Whereas the first piece ends quietly in low register in Bloch’s meditative key of C major, the second concludes fortissimo in high tessitura with a passage in the Lydian and Phrygian modes on B. Unlike Night and Paysages, the Two Pieces appear to have no directly programmatic intent.
from notes by Alexander Knapp © 2007