Resonances I : three movements for solo piano
by Michael Hannan (1987)
Performance by Roger Smalley
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Library shelf no. 786.2/HAN 30 [Not for loan]
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Resonances I (1987) is the first of a series of four
works, each with three movements, which explore the complex
resonances of the piano by means of a constantly depressed
sustaining pedal. Like George Crumb's Makrokosmos works, the
complete cycle of twelve
Resonances movements corresponds to the twelve astrological signs. Each movement is dedicated to one or more friends or associates (mostly composers) who have been born under the relevant sign. Some aspect of their work or personality has been used as a source
of inspiration for the composition of that movement, and occasionally there are actual musical references to the works of these people.
The Aries movement of Resonances I, "Celestial Ground," is dedicated to Anne Boyd, Trevor Pearce and Vincent Plush. The main musical reference is the alternating A flat and B flat of Anne's Angklung for piano (1974), a pioneering Australian exploration of the extreme static qualities of some Asian traditional musics. "Celestial Ground" was begun in Brisbane in early 1986, and the melodic material of the last three phrases is a transcription of song fragments of the pied butcherbird, whose calls were heard frequently during the
period of composition.
Butcherbird calls also provided the main melodic materials for the composition of the Taurus movement, "Earth Song," which is dedicated to Peter Sculthorpe, Eva King and Sally Mays. The ostinato figures at the beginning of the movement are influenced by Peter's music, while the frenetic rhythmic textures towards the end are a response to Eva's soundtrack for Kate McCarthy's performance art piece, Mimulus (1986). The harmonic content of this movement is derived from my earlier Three Meditations for Dane Rudhyar (1984), the first work of mine to explore piano resonance as a principal compositional strategy.
"Perpetual Inversion" is dedicated to Clive Pascoe and Martin Wesley-Smith, the latter being a Gemini both astrologically and biologically. Although I was responding to the personalities of these two in the initial stages of composition, this movement also owes debts to the harmonic materials of Sculthorpe's Night Pieces and to the piano figurations of Debussy and Ravel.
Duration: 9 min.
Contents note: Celestial ground -- Earth song -- Perpetual inversion.
Resonate article: A lifetime of engagement with Australian music by Michael Hannan
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