Piano Suite No. 9
& Piano Etudes
Piano Suite No. 9 was composed for Michael Sayers, a pianist, who now resides in Sweden. He has been obsessed with the life works of Franz Liszt and could probably write a scholarly tome about his compositional style and life story. I wanted to honor Michael’s dedication to his musical influence with sensual, romantic, intense, playful, and reflective works.
The second movement is dedicated to Edward Gorey after his Doubtful Guest work from 1957. A mischievous creature descends among an aristocratic family with no intention of leaving. This exuberant guest is both mysterious and intense as it lurks among the occupants of the Victorian mansion.
Most people think you can manage your time so we must have time in common, right? Therefore, the fourth piece is in common time, a humorous rarity for me.
The 3 Piano Etudes are from a book of 18 Pianos Etudes that are to be performed in sets of 3 (6 Maladies, 6 Philosophies, and 6 Histories). Written for the terrific pianist and technology educator Hugh Sung, these technically challenging works offer a high honor to our ancestors who gave us a gloriously rich musical history through which we can pass on ancient skills.
—John A. Carollo
Lyme Sonata is a work for solo piano in three short movements, based on the continuous interplay between two musical personalities: one jagged and one smooth. The jagged personality is characterized by angular rhythms, accented staccato articulations, chromatic harmony, and an absence of the damper pedal. The smooth personality, by comparison, is more lyrical, more diatonic, and more often played with sustain. This juxtaposition fluctuates between conflict and synergy throughout the sonata, creating a constant tension that drives the music forward through the contrasting moods of each of the three movements: I. Agitato, II. Cantabile, and III. Risoluto. The sonata was written in Old Lyme, CT, during the first two weeks of June 2017.
—John Dante Prevedini
Andante for Antoinette
& Adagio for Piano
The two piano compositions by Willem van Twillert stand out because of the rich harmonic and melodic idioms used by the composer. Adagio for Piano is characterized by an original musical sphere with an interaction between the upper and middle voices. The music sounds natural but there is a special hidden aesthetic side to it.
Andante for Antoinette is dedicated to the wife of the composer. This composition is immediately appealing at the first note and breathes a loving atmosphere. In his music you can also hear that Van Twillert is a lover of film music.
—Willem van Twillert
Sixteen Lines Circling a Square
& Moto Perpetuo
My approach to composition is a bit like creating and then solving a puzzle. After determining the parameters of the piece – form, pitch (usually involving some sort of layered structure), rhythm, etc. – the actual composing involves working out the solution. Most of my work involves non-standard approaches to traditional dodecaphonic procedures, and that is the case with both of these works.
Sixteen Lines Circling a Square is a four-movement work for solo percussionist alternating between vibraphone and marimba. Written in 2005 in response to a Society for Chromatic Art call for solo percussion scores, it was premiered by Tony Oliver in 2006. The title reveals the problem I set for myself: create a solo percussion piece in four movements, with each movement containing four layered lines that circle at different speeds around a matrix. In Moto Perpetuo, a single-movement work for solo marimba, inversionally-related sets are used to gradually transform a row into its retrograde.
—Robert E. Thomas
Solstice Introspect was composed for the McCormick Percussion Group. The piece was begun during the weeks preceding the winter solstice of 2016 and completed on December 21 of that year. The word solstice is derived from two Latin words: sol (sun) and sistere, to stand still. On this day the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole, and the Earth’s tilt is at its maximum. Writer Susi Amendola describes the human response to the winter solstice as “a natural slowing of our energy both physically and mentally” that can put us in a more “introspective space.” The winter solstice can be a time to turn inward in response to the shorter days and the frequent inability to enjoy the outdoors, especially in the extreme latitudes. The year is coming to a close and it is easy to fall into despair over bad experiences, the things we did not accomplish, or our impending mortality, as the light itself seems to die. However, it can also be a time of hope as the solstice not only represents the shortest period of light, but also the beginning of longer days. From a cosmic perspective, the solstice is the true “new year” Rather than despair, one may reflect on life, set new goals, and let go of goals that no longer serve a purpose.
The contrasting gestures forming the basis of trio represents the pull between the peaceful and unsettled mental states that can be part of the solstice, and the dichotomy between stasis and movement as the sun approaches its zenith. The familiar resonant properties long associated with the vibraphone are combined with muffled sonorities that are less typical of the instrument. Dense polyrhythmic passages are frequently interspersed with simpler, more sustained textures. In several passages, a staccato-like melodic pattern is played on one of the instruments while the other two play a resonant accompaniment. Special effects like harmonics, pitch-bending, and bowing the vibraphones provide coloristic variety, especially in the closing sections of this 7.5 minute work.
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