for piano solo and wind ensemble, 17 minutes
Instrumentation picc2222 2221 2 pc db pno solo
A three-movement piano concerto, the composer appeared as soloist with the Catholic University Chamber Winds (Robert Garofalo, conductor) in 1998.
Candelas, for piano solo and chamber wind ensemble, was written in response to a commission from Robert Garofalo and The Catholic University of America Chamber Winds, and was premiered by that ensemble, with the composer as soloist, on 30 April 1999, in Washington, D.C.
The work, in three movements, owes much to the piano concerto tradition. The first movement, "Pneumatic Hammers," derives its title not only from the performing forces involved (winds are "pneumatic," using air, and the piano uses "hammers" in its mechanism), but from the driving nature of the music. After a majestic introduction, the movement develops a motive first heard in the bassoons and the low register of the piano. The soloist is featured in two cadenzas during the course of the movement.
The middle movement, "the river is filled with lights," is a reflective study featuring the brass section. Quiet brass moments alternate with more dramatic woodwind and percussion passages, while the piano makes occasional commentary. The title comes from the remembrance of a photograph of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., seen from across the Potomac River at night. The lights of the building reflected in the water gave the illusion that the river was lit from within. The music is a reaction to the mood of this image.
The final movement, "the phosphorus garden," uses a Baroque variation technique for its formal structure. This movement is best described as an "interrupted chaconne," featuring seven statements of a chord progression interspersed with three interludes (in which the chord progression is not heard), and closing with a dramatic coda. The piano plays almost continually, in the tradition of perpetual motion pieces, and its cascading opening figures give the impression of water. The title of this movement is again derived from a subjective image, this time of phosphorus, an element which has the property of glowing in the dark (phosphorescence). Combined with the image of water already seen, the connection with gardens was then made. The quality of the music evokes for the composer this unreal and fascinating landscape.
Candelas is dedicated to Robert Garofalo and The Catholic University of America Chamber Winds.
--Andrew Earle Simpson