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Quintet for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass (2006)
Commissioned by Robert Freeman in memory of his father
Premiere: Texas Piano Quartet with Peter Lloyd, bass, 2006
Quintet for piano and strings (affectionately titled The Red Snapper
Quintet) was commissioned by Robert Freeman and members of his family in
loving memory of his father, Henry Freeman (1909-97). In 1930, Henry
Freeman became the first bassist to graduate from the Eastman School of
Music. He was later invited by Serge Koussevitsky to join the Boston
Symphony Orchestra where he served from 1945-67, and during the last two
years of that period Mr. Freeman served as Principal Bassist.
The story behind the works creation may be of interest. Composed
between October 2004 and April 2005, it was intended to serve as a
companion piece to Franz Schuberts Trout Quintet. In order to
further develop this connection, Mr. Freeman commissioned poet Jack
Brannon to compose a poem entitled Red Snapper, the first stanza of
which I was asked to set to music. I would then use this music as the
theme for a set of variations somewhere in the quintet, since the fourth
movement of Schuberts quintet is a theme with variations on Die Forelle
(The Trout), a song composed by Schubert himself.
This variation set became the third movement of my piece, and the
intervals and general qualities of its theme are foreshadowed by a
series of slowly descending melodies in the first movement. The second
movement is a short but very virtuosic scherzo played prestissimo, and
some of the music here found its way into the seventh and final
variation in the third movement. A very high, fragile series of
bell-tones opens the first movement and sets the mood for the entire
piece. This material returns as a moment of reflection near the end of
the piece, and it came to me immediately after reading Jack Brannons
poem for the first time.
Quintet for piano and strings was premiered by the Texas Piano Quartet
with bassist Peter Lloyd on October 2, 2005 in Bates Recital Hall at The
University of Texas at Austin. The members of the Texas Piano Quartet
are as follows:
Brian Lewis, violin
Roger Myers, viola
Bion Tsang, cello
Anton Nel, piano
It hangs above the piers rank bustle,
shimmering vermilion orb,
trophy stunning as a second sun,
gilt on the luster of days last light.
A prize-star fixed by unseen wire,
the fish outshines its sun-scorched anglers
proudly caught in gleeful portraits
lit by dazzle from their catchs red glare.
Lordly luminary: bright-prismed oval
rivets our gaze on its heavenly form --
sublime crown of crimson armor
declined below fins to silver eclipse.
No prisoner of the skys pale void,
this god springs like mighty Poseidon,
violet sovereign over blue-deep realms
it rules iridescent, vanishing free.