Flower-terrible Memories (1992-94)

for piano solo, 15 minutes

 

Instrumentation: piano solo

Recording: A Fiery and Still Night, Capstone (2006), Brian Ganz, pno

 

Movements:

I. Stars

II. the feet of april

III. gunsnbutter ballet

 

The poetry of ee cummings, war, and the galaxies are all referenced in this three-movement work, recorded on Capstone Records by pianist Brian Ganz.

 

Audio:

II. the feet of april (excerpt)


III. gunsnbutter ballet (excerpt)

 

Program Notes:

Flower-Terrible Memories, subtitled "Three Images of the Heavens and the Earth," is a three-movement work which deals with such subjects as , love, war, and personal early memories of rock and pop music - in particular, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Smoke on the Water.”  The first song is the earliest piece of music which I can remember hearing, and the second one comes not far behind it.  

 

The title of this piece comes from an ee cummings poem; it neatly addresses each of the three topics mentioned above.  Each of the movements is a musical portrait: the first, “Stars,” evokes the power of the firmament as seen in the whirling of the stars on a clear night. Beginning with a powerful explosion and gathering momentum, the piece calms completely in the middle, and a lonely melody is heard high in the piano’s register.  Soon, sounds from inside the piano are heard, and the movement begins to sputter out, as the rising sun blots out the stars, one by one. 

 

The second movement’s title, “the feet of april,” is also from cummings. This movement is a love song, and evokes the tenderness of new love as so well and often represented in cummings’ poetry.

 

The final movement, "gunsnbutter ballet," is a virtuoso tour de force for a pianist: optimistically headed “Headlong, yet poised,” it resembles a perpetual motion piece, although the motion does stop in the middle to evoke the mood of the first movement.  The title refers to a statement of uncertain attribution that, in time of war, guns are more important than butter.  The balletic aspect of this movement refers not only to its rhythmic lightness but the acrobatics required of the pianist. 

 

--Andrew Earle Simpson

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