Music: Sun Feb 23

This morning’s solo piano selections are intended to inspire thoughts of eternity on earth, or the godly spirit among humans.

Both Debussy’s The Sunken Cathedral and Richard Danielpour’s Persepolis allude to ancient times as conserved through ruins, the former in the world of mythology, the latter still intact as an archaeological site. Their music evokes the remote past through futuristic harmonies and blurred ambiance.

The Sunken Cathedral is based on a Breton myth concerning a temple on the Island of Ys off the French coast. The sanctuary is submerged, but, on clear days, its steeples can be seen peering out from the sea, the muffled sounds of priests chanting and organs playing wafting towards the mainland.

Persepolis was a city in ancient Persia. It was known by some as “the City of 100 Pillars” and by others as “the Site of 40 Minarets.” Richard Danielpour’s evocation is included in his
Enchanted Garden preludes for piano from 2009. The composer conceived these pieces as windows into his most remote memories, in this case channeling a relic of humanity and bestowing it with an eerie immortality.

Water images also inform the opening piece of today’s Centering Music, an African-American Spiritual arranged by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Here, the exhortation to “wade in the water” represents a universal impulse to embrace challenge through faith.

Ludwig van Beethoven must have felt a divine spark within to continue his creative life, even as he lost the sense most pertinent to it. The Bagatelles Op. 126 were his final solo piano work, written when the composer was completely deaf. The fourth of these short works seems to look back to earlier music, with its contrapuntal playfulness, and forward too, to the wild syncopations of Ragtime and jazz.

Frederic Chopin’s Twenty-Four Preludes also look back to Baroque traditions while blazing forward in their harmonic bravery and enigmatic brevity. The E-flat minor Prelude embodies the divine potential of the individual in the rich harmonic and polyphonic maze all miraculously fashioned out of a single unison voice.

Read on for programming details.  

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Wade in the Water
                                                African-American Spiritual, arr. by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
The Sunken Cathedral
                                                Claude Debussy

Opening Music:
Prelude in E-flat Minor, Op. 28, No. 14
                                    Fredric Chopin

Persepolis from The Enchanted Garden, Vol. II
                                    Richard Danielpour

Bagatelle in B Minor, Op. 126, No. 4
                                    Ludwig van Beethoven

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