Program Note for Windstorm
The dual-format identity body of work by Maurice Ravel is probably unique in all the classical literature in that the piano versions of the pieces, most of which
preceded the orchestral versions, are not merely reductions but are spacial
reinterpretations of the same musical ideas and structures. I have always admired the incredible versatility inherent in the pieces themselves to uniquely survive in two formats. In contrast, Charles Ives took many piano works and fragments and recomposed, recombined and layered them into other pieces, the use of Hawthorne-Celestial Railroad material in the Fourth Symphony would be a primary example.
Somewhere between these two procedures lies my technique for creating
Windstorm. Having completed Octet-Windstorm a few months ago (Sept. 2004), I felt that the material in the Third Movement had more possibilities in the medium of solo piano. Previously, I had taken ideas from Inferno (2003) and made them into a piano encore (Ex Inferno), ignoring the large structural implications and just gleaning short fragments of the ideas themselves. In Windstorm, the piano piece, I
actually made a piano reduction of all of Movement III of the Octet as a skeletal framework upon which to build, a little like the Christopher Wren design for St. Bride's Church in London, which was built on a First-Century Christian chruch. One usually thinks of windstorms as a destuctive force in nature, but they also have a cleansing effect on the land. The fierce oppositions of the dissonances and dance tune are an attempt to dramatically project this dichotomy; and, while the same oppositions are present in Movement III of Octet-Windstorm, the percussive nature of the piano itself further sharpens the distinction.
While extended passages of the piano piece are completely different from the Octet original, the basic pacing and ebb and flow of musical space and time is
maintained. These secondary, non thematic or harmonic musical parameters guide the emotional tide of the piece. It should be looked at as a kind of experiment, since none of the ten piano sonatas and dozens of concert pieces for piano were created in this way. In all, the process has given me special insight into the nature of my own work as a curious dissection, but with the creation of something with new life. I also feel that there is a kind of obsessed grotesquery to this piece, an ugly orphan that
initially repels but demands attention and ultimately attraction.