Poems (opens in new tab)
for solo piano, pre-recorded voice
poems written and read by Lawrence Raab; used with kind permission of the author
1. "The History of Forgetting"
2. "After We Saw What There Was to See"
3. "Three Wishes"
duration: 12 minutes
Brian Simalchik, piano
in May 2013 at The Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL
About the work:
This is a set of three pieces for solo piano, accompanying the recorded voice of poet Lawrence Raab reading three poems from his collection The History of Forgetting.
Each of the three pieces looks at forgetting and memory from a slightly different angle: the first considers Adam and Eve leaving the garden of Eden, learning, for perhaps the first time in human history, to forget the past. The second is a more personal reflection about family and the speaker's father; the final poem moves outward, considering nostalgia, childhood, and the impossibility of wish fulfillment.
The music for the three pieces also charts a course of ever-increasing focus on the resonance of the piano. The sustain pedal on the piano is depressed for the entire first piece, letting all notes ring freely. In the second, pauses are introduced in the prerecorded voice, letting accumulated piano melodies ring for a few seconds as vertical chords. And finally, the third piece focuses on the sympathetic resonance of the piano strings using the sostenuto pedal, as an increasing number of undamped strings catch the resonance of stuck notes.
Many thanks are owed to poet Lawrence Raab for giving me permission to work with his poetry, for reading and recording his poems for this piece, and for his attention to, consideration of and discussion about the resultant music.