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Download an MP3 file of the first movement of this work recorded by Penny Pan, piano at California State University, Los Angeles.
Download an MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the third movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fourth movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fifth movement of this work.
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These five short pieces for piano display a variety of styles, ranging from traditional to jazz and folk sonorities, and from programmatic to analytical. Often the unexpected occurs. The opening "Prelude" starts in the very tonal language of Bach Preludes. Soon the style shifts to lyrical/romantic. And then the dancing "specks of light," in folk language, lead to accented jazz-oriented dissonances. The patterns "whisk away" at the end.
"Birds in Flight" focuses upon a simple, ascending melody in the key of E Minor. Counter melodies descend, marked "flowing." A middle section introduces short motives, perhaps suggestive of birds' wings in flight. The principal theme returns, with intensity. Final downward arpeggios may be heard as the bird flying away. There is sorrow in the dissonances.
"Around C" and its companion piece, "Leaving D," are studies of pitches. In the "C" movement, pitches encircle middle C, rising, then falling away from the center, diatonically. A chromatic "episode" begins, creating dense chord clusters. Unexpectedly, a chromatic melody forms above the chords, leading to forceful octaves which eventually return to...middle C. The opening encircling of the tonic returns at the end, as an afterthought.
In the "D" movement, pitches move away from the center, rather than circling about. With each new note added to the chord, or with each new step of the scale examined, this music would seem to be quite "studious." Yet, the more dry and cerebral that this style might tend to be, the more the exploration of the notes starts to yield adventure, amusement and even humor. In short, the notes become characters. They "play" upon the keyboard, and often have the last laugh!
The fourth movement, before it was given a title, brought to mind the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, "Mindful of you the earth in spring..." The theme, extremely tonal and simple, grew from the composer's childhood folk music language. This movement hearkened to the past, and thus it became entitled "Remembrance." Perhaps this is a testimony to youthful days of song, and to the friends who shared in the singing. The closing section of the music is marked "with strength and conviction." For the soul of youth survives... and the beauty of the human spirit endures.
Notes by the composer