From San Domingo
is a Caribbean-style miniature. The title refers to the old Spanish name for the island that now accommodates the republics of Dominica and Haiti—a racial and musical melting-pot in which Spanish, African and Creole influences were freely mixed. Though this may have been intended to exploit the market opened up by the Jamaican Rumba
(and like that work, it was originally scored for two pianos), it is in fact a quite different sort of piece. The version for viola and piano, dedicated to Primrose, appeared in 1945. The piano’s opening rhythmic ostinato calls for the player to rap with the knuckles on the piano lid, producing a rhythmic figure of five rapid quavers which becomes an integral motif in the viola’s melody. Though the mood is generally raffish and carefree, towards the end comes a melancholy snatch of song in Spanish style; in the coda the violist is instructed to play the rhythmic figure col legno, the wood of the bow answering the wood of the piano.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2014