Creative Works

Recollections of Childhood

For solo piano, three movements (1994), 21:45
Phyllis East, piano

Recollections of Childhood is a composite of early influences from study as a pianist.  Though the memories are altered by attitudes and inclinations acquired by the time of writing, the music contains images from a devotion to sources not atypical of impressionable young pianists.  In a mixture of almost equal strengths, the composition references Chopin, Rachmaninov, Debussy, Ravel, Jazz, and even a glancing allusion to European folk music that filled the household during early stages of the composer’s musical awareness.

The first of these three character pieces, Ballade on F, begins with an introductory cadenza-like flourish that settles into an extended lyrical passage which culminates in an increasingly passionate moment.  This arrival quickly subsides into a return to varied suggestions of the opening lyrical material.  The composition concludes quietly with ornamentation reminiscent of the gestures with which the music began.  Throughout this dramatic ballade the composition continually returns to a focus on the pitch class F, each time in a different melodic and harmonic context.

Valse is continuously gentle, and lyrical.  The triple meter of the standard valse is often interspersed with metric departures, which do not, however, interfere with the dance-like, lilting quality of the music.  The decorative arpeggio gestures recall textures from the opening of the ballade.

Burlesque is a fun-filled, double variation built on two contrasting themes that are eventually stated simultaneously.  The opening vivo, followed immediately by a quieter andante, becomes langsamer ballad (references to popular “torch” songs of the 40’s and 50’s), which again turns playful in etwas Jazz.  The concluding finale becomes increasingly harmonically adventurous, and finishes with a rousing coda employing glissandi and a variety of other pianistic bravura gestures.       

Copyright © 2008 Donald Bohlen.

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