Piano Quartet "November, 2004" (2010)
for violin, viola, cello & piano
I spent my first month as a guest at the Saratoga Springs artists colony, Yaddo in November, 2004. Besides being four of the most productive and stimulating weeks of my creative life, my stay was marked by a series of unforgettable memories. These included a brilliant, rare occurrence of the aurora borealis in the Saratoga sky that lasted for several nights, a series of creepy, ‘ghostly’ experiences in my room, and a few fantastic dance parties. Each movement of Piano Quartet “November, 2004” in a way tells one of those stories.
The first movement, Aurora over Saratoga, tries to capture not only the radiant spirals of color that slowly built over time but the intense excitement, anticipation and joy that the onlookers felt waiting and watching.
Yaddo is famous for ghost stories and my stay was no exception. The second movement sums up my weird experiences of electric sensations, footsteps and eerie feelings, sometimes from my point of view, sometimes from the point of view of a ghost (a recurring use of a melody from a Kate Bush song ‘Watching you without me’). The third movement, Molotov Dances, is a simple set of dances interspersed with a raucous ritornello and culminating in a fugato which leads back to the opening dance again. ‘Molotov’ refers to a Mexican Rock band whose tune ‘Here We Kum’ was a favorite of the month at various dance parties and serves to generate much of the material of the movement.
The piece was written for Ensemble Made in Canada and was premiered by them on April 13th, 2010. It is dedicated to Yaddo and all of the artists who were guests there in November 2004 with whom I share these stories.
• Listen to a performance of this work by Ensemble Made in Canada here.