He Who Sleeps Behind Mountains (2016)
alto saxophone and piano
There is a section in the Norse Prose Edda which details the interactions between Thor and his companions, and the giant Skrymir, or Utgarda-Loki. After Skrymir steals food from him, Thor attempts to kill Skrymir in his sleep, but the giant magically shields himself behind a mountain range. After reaching his castle, Skrymir challenges Thor and his companions to several rigged contests; Loki has an eating contest with fire personified, Thjalfi races against the speed of thought, and Thor wrestles with old age personified. After Skrymir reveals his ruse, Thor goes to strike him with his hammer, but Skrymir and his castle disappear, leaving only an empty prairie.
While not explicitly pictoral, this was the story in my mind while writing He Who Sleeps Behind Mountains. The loud piano chords at the beginning and end of the piece might be the heavy hammer blows of Thor, and the fast driving section near the end might be Thjalfi's race against thought.
He Who Sleeps Behind Mountains was written during the summer of 2016, and is dedicated to my friend Jeff Humphrey.