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Heart-Suite
for piano

2019 - Duration: ca. 9', in four movements

Program Note

       Heart-Suite was written using two sources of material: one, a conventional twelve-tone row, treated with standard twelve-tone techniques; and the other a twelve-note melody that is not treated serially. The latter melody is a musical cipher, using the ancient practice of soggetto cavatto to transform, or encode, letters of a name into musical notes.

       The first movement, “Heart-Beat,” was actually written second. The twelve-tone material is given to the left hand, pounding out a lively march-like beat, while the cipher melody sings above it, sometimes captive to its rhythm and sometimes breaking free.

       “Heart-Sick” is a morose lament with qualities of a chaconne, a Baroque form that makes use of a repeated bass line. In this movement, the “repeated” line is actually variants of the twelve-tone row, but always starting on the same pitch, G. Meanwhile, the cipher melody soliloquizes in a recitative-like fashion.

       “Heart-Race” is a lively moto perpetuo, constantly moving—until it’s interrupted. The interruptions are made from the cipher melody, which is also heard as a distant melody undergirding the machine-like pace of the upper line. The moving lines are made from Stravinskian rotations of the row’s two halves, subjected to various injuries.

       The final movement, “Heart-Song,” abandons the twelve-tone row and is a free, rhapsodic love-song, my version of a Schumann or Schubert Lied, filtered through Stravinsky, Debussy, John Adams, Thelonious Monk, and all the other composers and musicians who occupy and inform my mental soundscape. The material in this movement derives mainly from the intervals present in the cipher melody, and is the movement most connected to the dedicatee in my perception.

       Unlike most of my works, this piece seemed to flow from me in a spate of inspiration. The concept lingered for a while as it took shape, but once the work was begun in earnest it was finished in less than a week. This piece is dedicated, with love and admiration, to Kamela Ann Caschette.