Shorthand takes its title from Leo Tolstoy’s novella, The Kreutzer Sonata, in which he writes, “Music is the shorthand of emotion. Emotions, which let themselves be described in words with such difficulty, are directly conveyed to man in music, and in that is its power and significance.”
The piece references two themes from Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano (which inspired Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata): the opening theme, as well as a second theme that Janácek also incorporated in his own String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata” (also inspired by Tolstoy’s novella). That second Beethoven theme inspires the opening material for Shorthand.
Shorthand exists in two forms – for solo cello and string quintet, and for solo cello and string orchestra and these are dedicated to my husband, Jody Elff.