The Wind (2006)
for piano solo, 90 minutes
The Wind storm
Performer: Andrew E Simpson, piano (live performance, National Gallery of Art)
Film synopsis and musical notes:
This remarkable drama, starring Lillian Gish and Lars Hanson, was shot in California's Mojave Desert, in blinding heat. The principal narrative revolves around Gish's character, Letty Mason, who comes to the West from Virginia to live with her cousin, who is married to an extremely jealous woman. Letty falls for a somewhat dubious man she meets on the train out West. She marries Lige, a neighbor whom she does not love and initially spurns; he, however, dedicates himself to raising the money to send her back East.
Throughout the film, the wind - which never stops blowing - makes Letty more and more uneasy. Its continual presence becomes ever stronger, and drives her close to madness. The culminating scene of the film is a great wind storm (a "norther," as it is called in the film), in which Letty is left alone in her cabin. The presence of nature - in this case, its destructive power - makes an important subtext to the film.
For the storm scene, I combined much inside-the-piano playing on the strings and frame of the soundboard, and employed a wooden spoon, as well, for its unique sharp but shallow timbre when played on the instrument.
--Andrew Earle Simpson