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Capricious Fantasy
for solo piano
(2013)

 

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In 2013 Michael Tsalka, who was organizing a piano recital to commemorate the Classical Bohemian composer Johann Baptist Wanhal in 2014, asked if I would be interested in composing new music that is somehow directly related to the music of Wanhal. Accepting the challenge, I began perusing some of the capriccios Michael had been working on and eventually settled on ideas found in Wanhal’s third capriccio for solo piano. Instead of using a quotation or variation techniques, I decided to weave Wanhal’s original motives into a more modern musical context. The result is that certain aspects of the motives’ pitches or rhythms remain intact in my music, but the expression, style and developmental contexts are all radically different from those of the original composition. Perhaps one could say that my music’s DNA (the basic motivic content) comes from Wanhal’s capriccio, but the relationship between these two compositions may not be immediately noticed.

In technical terms, Capricious Fantasy begins with the repetition of four chords that were derived from notes used in one of Wanhal’s melodic motives. Melodies based on that motive then enter with different phrase lengths, thus creating a gentle dialogue of independent voices. Eventually, another faster idea from the same Wanhal capriccio is introduced, but it first appears as slowly and freely played sixteenth notes. The entire piece then unfolds as a dialogue of moods, tempos and characters based on these three simple ideas, culminating with fast notes and strong declarations before subsiding to reveal a gentle ending in which all three ideas also appear.

(duration ca.6 minutes)