FANTASY AND FUGUE FOR TWO PIANOS AND PERCUSSION: HOMMAGE Á BARTÓK
Fantasy and Fugue is constructed utilizing specific elements from two of Bartók’s works. The Fantasy (first movement) employs several rhythmic devices from Bartok’s own Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, and the "Fugue" (second movement) is built from a reworking of the head of Bartók’s fugue subject from Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. The homage here also focuses on harmonic structures pervasive to Bartók’s mature work, including implementation of folk idioms.
LE SOIR TOMBE
This work for soprano and piano four-hand was commissioned in 2006 by French scientist, philanthropist, and poet Thérèse Planiol (1914-2014), who had a monumental career in the medical field before dedicating herself to supporting the arts in France and around the world. The stirring, dreamlike poetry invokes foggy reminiscences - remembrances of love lost. Mme Planiol commissioned the piece specifically for this somewhat unorthodox, but wonderfully effective medium.
LE SOIR TOMBE - Text
Le soir tombe
L’ombre s’étale sur la dalle
De pierre grise
Que voulez-vous que je vous dise?
Vous êtes avec moi dans cette allée
Vers un reste de lumière dorée
Dans l’entrelacs des branches
Un éclair rose et pâle glisse
Sur les champs de mauves floraisons
Au pied des tilleuls
Vous êtes avec moi autour de l’eau;
Vous êtes avec moi sur les marches du perron;
Vous êtes avec moi dans les notes du piano.
Dans nos cahiers,
Dans mes souvenirs
Et dans mes larmes.
En toute saison,
Vous êtes; vous serez là
“Sursum” is the Latin prefix for “upward,” an expression which manifests itself in this work as a feeling of longing for or pursuance of something higher than oneself. As the music progresses, reaching ever upward, there is a sense of losing one’s footing in the trivial, rising instead toward a consciousness of the things that make a difference: simple kindness, basic goodness, love.
Droyßig is a small village, approximately fifty kilometers outside of Leipzig, where distinguished pianist Ulrich Urban was born and spent his childhood. In the summer of 2004, Urban invited me to come to Droyßig and live in his father’s old house to write this piece for him. The “Wald” there is actually more of a park, a source of contemplation and wonder—some even say it is a magical place—where I spent many hours each week. The second movement seeks to capture the austerity of the old “Droyßig Castle,” which sits at the center of town. And the third houses several quotations, an honoring encapsulation of my time there.
SECHS MINIATUREN FÜR DAS MEER
[SIX MINIATURES FOR THE SEA]
Sechs Miniaturen was written for the Weimar-based Duo Soundways (Chris Bilobram, guitar; Reinhard Wolschina, piano) in 2007. The miniatures represent six scenes in tableau—a day in a life—sitting and watching the sea. For me they represent specific images, a tiny story that will undoubtedly vary, listener to listener.
This work centers on a series of bucolic hiking trails in the mountains of West Virginia, forest paths my father-in-law has walked for nearly fifty years. The three movements carry the names of three of my favorite trails. The ‘Reverie’ is peaceful and rugged, with quiet wind-filled corners, towering climbs and flying descents; ‘Wilderness’ is submerged in wet, early-morning fog; the ‘Tramontane’ is austere and ancient, featuring the crumbling remains of old homesteads. The sound world offered here seeks to capture the wonder of these places as they reside and last in my mind.
Shadow extends over
The slab of gray stone.
What do you want me to tell you?
You are with me in this alley
that goes up
Toward a remnant of golden light,
In the intertwining of the branches.
A flash, pale pink and white, slides
Over the fields of flowering mallows
To the foot of the linden tree,
Which is losing its leaves.
You are with me around the water;
You are with me on the steps;
You are with me in the notes of the piano.
In our notebooks,
In my memories
And in my tears.
In any season,
You are; you will be there,
Why are you smiling?
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