Piano

 
 

Capriccio and Rhapsody, 2003, 4;30; 6:00

 

Intimations, Suite in 7 Movements, 2001, 15:17. Recorded on New Ariel, American Eclectic, Vol. 6. 15’34”.

  The title of the suite points toward Wordsworth’s  Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood: Eden remembered and longed for. Movements II, IV, and VII are fast, edgy, and lean in texture. They form a backbone for the surrounding slower, lyrical movements. The piece calls for fullness of playing gesture. Recorded by Jeffrey Jacob on Vol. 6 of Contemporary American Eclectic for the Piano.


Rings of Saturn, 2000, 17:00

  Movements I, III, and V are brooding songs of harmonic and contrapuntal complexity; movements II and IV, an arabesque and a scherzo, are quick-moving and spare-textured. The planet Saturn has surrounding rings which are brightly colored, distinct from one another, and have dark “spokes” within them.


Upslope, Suite for Piano, 1998, 15:15. Recorded on the CD, Spring and Fall.

  An upslope is a weather pattern familiar in the Colorado Rockies: a slow gathering of moisture which moves westward from the plains bringing drizzle and clouds lasting several days, rather than the frequent brief summer afternoon mountain thunderstorms, The music is homophonic, with freely emerging and disappearing contrapuntal lines. Three quick movements set off two slow ones—a cantilena and a melodically embellished chorale. For a recording of


Keener’s Way, 1997, 13:10. Recorded on the CD, Spring and Fall.

Lamb’s Slide,” “Diamond Step,”and “Chasm View” are well-known places which occur along Kiener’s Route, a difficult climb up the sheer face of Long’s Peak in Colorado. For those of us who have never followed Kiener’s Route, but have (as mourners) been on Keener’s Way, the names of the movements can be evocative. In I, middle C# is the centering note for increasingly capricious melodic offshoots; II is a slow, pensive rondo, ABACA; III is a fast giddy slipping of melody, often in octaves, with flashes of counterpoint and short gaps of silence.


Four Done Deals, 1994, 10:30. Recorded on the CD, Outcrops and Upshots, and on Kaleidoscope. (For audio and score sample,  click here.)

  A conversation in the first movement (I) between two characters—one harmonic, one melodic—is followed by a short rondo (II) whose outer sections are jazzy;

III is a Chopinesque nocturne, and IV is a tango, with opening and concluding

fanfare sections. The music is lyric, forceful in rhythm, lean in texture, and

tonal.


Waltz, Op. 120, 1993,  5:30

   A rumination on the waltz which one listener described as “15 ways of looking at a waltz;” it pays homage to Ravel, Satie, and Schubert—especially to the Op. 120, the “little A major” Sonata. The piece is tonal and melody-centered, with contrapuntal interest in the accompaniment; a middle section has dramatically quick shifts of character.


Two Movements through Space, 1992, 13:00

   The movements—“the boy, ecstatic…” and “the yellow half-moon, enlarged…”—were provoked by passages in Whitman’s poem Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking. The pieces, which may be played in either order, explore how musical elements also move through their surrounding space.


‘the spirits that lend strength are invisible’, 1990, 14:14

  Seven short character pieces, each a gestural sweep with branching swirls of piano color. In Sigmar Polke’s paintings of the same title, metal has been blown or thrown into the resin; in these pieces initiating musical gestures (like the metal) give definition to feeling and then thread their way imperceptibly through the fabric to “lend” the music both toughness and vigor.


Mixed Nocturne & Toccata, 1989, 11:30

   Nocturne-like introspective melodies occur over simple ostinati, and are mixed between outspoken, virtuoso sections exploring idiomatic keyboard techniques and touches, some unusual. The harmonic language has been influenced by overtone clusters from prepared piano, and the varied pedal effects are notated in detail..


Heart of the Beast. 1988, 11:00

  This “tone” poem developed from a video-taped, then studied, movement improvisation in which my hands appeared to drop as if into the heart of a beast, then as if lifting it forth, could feel its mass and muscularity. At first the melodies are suspended within a fabric of harmonies blended by pedal. In the second half of the piece, a Kodo-like thumping low bass ostinato takes over, and becomes louder, more insistent, while melodic fragments enter sporadically above.


Ballad and Ostinato. 1985, 15:00

   Ballad explores melody as breathed, Ostinato, melody as danced (over an intoned G#). In both pieces the clusters of sounds—those articulated and those overhanging from partials or from sustained pedalings—are reminiscent of prepared piano. Short passages from Rilke's Duino Elegies appear in the score as epigrams; the two pieces may be played separately, or their order reversed.


Serenade. 1980, 12:00

  The source for the piece was a close-up photograph of a cobweb by California artist, Zander Smith: through this web were scattered four or five "trapped" dewdrops. In the music, a rough-hewn, yet dance-like Spanish-sounding theme scatters itself here and there through a webbed tracing of amiable, many-hued melodic line. (Piano transcription of the guitar Serenade, 1979.)

   

Soundings. 1978, 11:00


The Lost River, Sevier. 1978, 11:00

   The Sevier is a vigorous river in Utah which fingers out into many shallow streams, and suddenly disappears entirely. The piece explores the space between sounds, inviting broad gestures to express those junctures. As a special technique, I wanted to imitate a marimba player’s mallet techniques of rapidly repeated pitch to sustain a tone—so a distinction is made in the score among the ricochet, the shake, and the trill. (Advanced intermediate)


Seven Waltzes for Emily Dickinson. 1979, 16:45.

   Easy to play, the waltzes are brief, in the condensed style of Schubert waltzes and the poems of Emily Dickinson. 31 prepared pitches are freely interspersed with unprepared tones; most of the preparations are rubber or wound paper (blending stumps used by artists); there are also seven metal preparations (small screws or washers) and two preparations of flexible plastic tubing. The set-up is not difficult but takes about 30 minutes. (The player needs to check with the piano-owner for permission and time to set-up. Assure the owner of your carefulness.) At least one rehearsal on the piano is advised..


Transverse Process. 1976, 11:00

   A transverse process is the lateral bony "wing" on either side of a vertebra.  On each person, and from vertebra to vertebra, these are quite different in the subtleties of their shapes. The piece explores affective qualities of various touch techniques and encourages broad performance gestures; overlapping of sound is notated as finger-pedallng; other notated color effects include1/2 and 1/4 pedals, slow beginnings and endings of pedal, blurred releases. (Advanced intermediate)


Coming to Standing. 1975,  8:00

   Coming to standing is a phrase from the sensory awareness work of Charlotte Selver and Charles Brooks where simple actions like standing or sitting, through notice, turn into absorbing inner processes, and seem to slow up so that each small movement leading to a complete action becomes individually sensed. Musically, notes occur and "bump off" or stir into action other notes or note sequences, and in chordal passages, the most dissonant note in each vertical collection is the bumper—and throws the other notes into search of the next arresting, through whose "moving part" emerges yet the next chord. (Advanced intermediate)


Spectres (with five easy eraser preparations). 1975,  8:00   

   The image for the piece was the passage in Gluck's opera where Orfeo addresses "Ombres, Spectres" as he seeks admittance to the underworld to rescue Euridice.  The spectral sounds of the erasers mock and yet acquiesce to the unprepared sounds. A three-note ostinato of prepared sounds accompanies and is interrupted by fragments of unprepared-pitch melodies. The set-up takes 5 minutes at most. Preparations, all rubber. consist of 3 pencil-cap erasers, and 2 Pink Pearl erasers, #100 . This is a friendly set-up, quick and persuasively easy on the instrument being used. (Not difficult for an intermediate student who likes to explore timbre, ostinati, and rhythmic figures.)


Song in Licia for Savonarola. 1974,  8:00


Offering to Birdfeather. 1974,  5:00

  A melodic tone poem based on a dream image. It explores timbral techniques, in particular, pedaling. It has some qualities of a Chopin nocturne, with special emphasis on tone color. (Intermediate)


Piano, 4-Hands

Antares. 1974,  6:00 (master and scholar)

Sweeney among the Nightingales and Danse Micawber. 1975,  4:40; 4:00 (recital repertory)


Prepared Piano

Counterchange I. with clarinet, 1998,  6:40.

Two Sound Studies, 1983,  9:00.

Seven Waltzes for Emily Dickinson. 1980, 16:45.

Popo Agie. 1979, 11:30..

Six Sentient Waltzes. 1979,  9:50. Composer. Recorded on the CD, Spring and Fall.

Variations 7. 1978, 7:00. Recorded on Capriccio Records, Vol. II (LP).

Dry Rot. 1977, 15:25.

Blending Stumps. 1976, 11:00.

Orb. 1976,  9:00.

Spectres (with five easy eraser preparations). 1975,  8:00,

Greycastle. 1974, 8:30.z

    From 1974-1983 I was immersed in writing for prepared piano. Out of the

Unless otherwise described, these pieces are recital repertory. A search for lyricism, the play of inner voices, and a variety of tone color have drawn me into these pieces. All of them were published by Seesaw Music Corporation, New York, and are available from the composer.