The Five Pieces were written in 1964 for Yehudi Menuhin to play as encores on an American tour, and reflect both his musical character and the breadth of his musical interests. The ‘Prelude’ opens flamboyantly with a fine violinistic flourish rising from the G string to the heights, while the piano supplies a vigorous counter-theme. The violin meditates briefly on the lyrical potential of the opening figure before the twinned themes return. The ‘Aubade’, unlike most of its dreamy species, is a light-footed scherzo freely based on an Indian raga and characterized by flattened second and raised fourth degrees. There is a touch of parody in the tiny ‘Waltz’ with its neatly turned gestures, soulful chromaticisms and deux temps rhythms, but none in the ‘Ballad’: a sustained and expressive violin melody repeated note-for-note over plain and expectable syncopated harmonies (the tune itself is not really so simple—note the minor-third internal echoes and the unusual six-plus-eight bar structure). The last piece pays tribute to the art of Charlie Parker—not with the unstaunchable flow of semiquavers of the conventional moto perpetuo but with a slippery, eel-like tune which contradicts the pounding bass beat with its cross-rhythms and syncopations and finally explodes in a firework burst of cadential flourishes.
from notes by Hugo Cole © 1988