The Bowed Piano Ensemble, Victoria Hanson, soprano
The Deep Spaces, the most recent in my series of bowed piano compositions, is a fantasy song-cycle celebrating the power and grandeur—evoked by poets and composers over two millennia—of one of the world's most dazzling and enchanting locales: Lake Como, surely the brightest jewel in the crown of alps and mountain lakes that adorns Italy's far north, just below Switzerland. The song texts, set for soprano soloist with the ensemble serving as accompanying orchestra (and, occasionally, chorus), are taken from writers as distant in time, culture, psychology and aesthetic stance from one another as Pliny the Younger, aristocratic native of Como and chronicler of many aspects of Roman life in the first and second centuries A.D., William Wordsworth, whose poetry celebrates both the Lake District of his native England and the Italian Lake District he loved, and Pablo Medina, a twenty-first century poet and novelist of Cuban ancestry residing and teaching in New York. Listeners may also recognize musical themes and motives I have borrowed from composers linked to Como and the Italian mountains such as Liszt and Berlioz, weaving them together with my own melodies and textures. What ties all of these artists together is their attraction to and artistic connection with Lake Como and, more generally, Northern Italy.
The Bowed Piano Ensemble was founded at Colorado College in 1977, has evolved into a small orchestra whose wide range of sound colors and textures are all coaxed from one open grand piano by ten musicians wielding nylon filament, horsehair, hand-held piano hammers, guitar picks, and other devices. This evolution may be traced from the simple bowed sounds and musical structures heard on our first New Albion recording, New Music for Bowed Piano (NA 004 LP, NA 107 CD) through the more complex forms and playing techniques of Minervas Web/The Tears of Niobe (NA 026) and especially Vikings of the Sunrise (NA 084).
--Stephen Scott, September 2006
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