Sour Note Suite

for Two Pianos

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  • Commissioned by/written for
    Lin-Yo Wang and Marcia Cattaruzzi
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  • Year revised
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Sour Note Suite was begun in 2006, when I wrote its first movement, "Vicissitudes," essentially written because I desired to write a work for the combination of piano duo. and never had done so. Having no performers in mind, and with no immediate likelihood of a performance, I set the movement aside for a period of eight years. When in 2012, I became acquainted with the superb Taiwanese pianist, Lin-Yu Wang, who premiered the piano part of his demanding Sonata for Tenor Saxophone and Piano, I also became aware that Wang had a duo piano partner, Marcia Cattaruzzi, who lived in Brazil. When I hired Wang to record all of mysolo piano music, she suggested that I complete the work so that the two of them could premiere and record the suite in March of 2015. The opening movement refers to the vicissitudes of life, with all of its challenges, pleasant times, and the ups and downs that a family is faced with on a daily basis. Consequently, the first movement juxtaposes very tonal with much less tonal passages to suggest the variety of experiences and moods that life presents. The second movement, "Uncle Walt's Carbuncle Waltz," is a play on words that I enjoyed coming up with. There is no "Uncle Walt" in either pianist's family or mine. Wang's family, however, includes her American piano-playing husband Joe, and young music-loving son Ethan. The latter, a boy of two at the time the third movement, "Lullaby for Ethan," was written, depicts his mother serenading him to sleep. The young lad is reluctant to sleep, and one can hear a musical representation of his laughter, but that eventually yields to slumber, and his dreaming state is suggested through the strumming of the piano strings with a credit card. The final movement is a lively "Galop Piccola," a play on the name of the well-known Italian composer, Luigi Dallapiccola. The pace of this romp through the keyboards of both pianos scarcely lets up through the course of the brief movement. The first movement of the suite was composed between September 2nd and 4th of 2006, while the final three movements were written in eleven composition sessions between October 3rd and November 3rd, 2014.

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