4 Pieces (2013)
Duration: 13:00 minutes
Instrumentation: 2 pianos
Premiere: March 19, 2013 at The Juilliard School, Morse Hall, Shiau-uen Ding and Michael Ippolito, pianos
These four short pieces are each based on a simple, sometimes whimsical, musical idea or image. The first movement is a bombastic introduction with a strange, ornamented melody set against an off-beat accompaniment. The two pianists trade this melody and the accompanying off-beats, back and forth in a kind of musical game. The second movement is lyrical and, as the title suggests, features a simple refrain. The third movement is built on a chorale, which is itself a stretched-out version of the capricious melody from the first movement. Beginning with low clusters, the chorale travels through a bizarre landscape with crisscrossing scales, overlapping rhythmic layers and Bachian counterpoint before it finally re-emerges in an explosive fortissimo. Finally, the fourth piece is loosely related to the Bulgarian horo (xopo), a broad category of circle-dances often in mixed meters of 11, 15, 25 or more asymmetrically divided beats. My horo furioso is an extreme re-imagining of this type of dance, a kind of hyperactive folk music in changing meters flying by at breakneck speed.
While each movement is a separate and independent piece, they are also intimately related: all the musical material for each piece comes from the opening measures of the Introduction. With this in mind, I imagine these pieces less as a linear narrative, but rather as four lines extending in different directions beginning from the same point.