I wrote this piece with the substance of a Characterstück in mind:
the representation of a psychological state or the manifestation of an
emotional landscape though music. Each of the three movements synthesize
particular associations related to distant places. The first postcard,
“sent” from doomed Venice, is a commentary on the inevitable decay of
the tonal language and the Romantic Era. The symbolism is created through
the disintegration of a typical, perhaps Mendelssohn-flavored, Venetian
boat song. Heard first in the immediate foreground, the expansive melody
in the right hand-partially disguised with broken octaves-demands a virtuoso
pianist. Later, as the movement progresses, most musical parameters (melody,
tonality, texture, motivic design, and above all, register and speed)
gently “dissolve” and “sink.” As shining domes and proud towers are inexorably
engulfed by the water, a few sparkling glimpses of the lost splendor can
still be seen under the surface of the water, gradually losing their focus,
then disappearing. The movement ends when the fragment of one heavy stone
pillar reaches the bottom of the sea.
The second postcard
was conceived as a sound-sculpture. The resulting masses of sound, slowly
shifting their colors and densities, represent the enigmatic loneliness
of a silent iceberg, drifting aloof and at last disappearing into the
horizon of a timeless ocean.
Doma de Potros
en La Pampa (which can be loosely translated as "Rodeo in La Pampa")
completes the three-movement cycle with a strong rhythmic and dynamic
contrast. The metallic and earthly echoes of a pure malambo criollo-a
traditional folk rhythm-are the background for the confrontation between
rider and horse. As the rider attempts to tame the animal, he is thrown
off again and again. Just before the rousing conclusion, a nostalgic piano
cadenza recalls the contemplative atmosphere of the previous movements.
In this last postcard, the modern harmonies and thick “orchestral” textures
are evocative of the music of Argentina’s foremost composer, Alberto Ginastera.
1998 & 1999 by Martin Kutnowski, ASCAP. All rights reserved.