And the River, concerto for duo-pianists and chamber orchestra

18 minutes

Co-commissioned by Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival and Oberlin Sinfonietta
World premiere: HOCKET piano duo and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, May 12 - 13, 2018, Los Angeles
Grand Piano 4-hands, two toy grand pianos
Flute, Oboe (E.H.), Clarinet, Bass Clarinet (Cl. 2), Bassoon
Horn, Trumpet, Trombone
2 Percussionists
Strings (Double String Quartet and Bass)

Keiser Classical (</p>

Program notes: 

And the River  Concerto for Duo-Pianists and Chamber Orchestra (2018)                                   

Co-commissioned by Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival and Oberlin Sinfonietta

Program note

And the River, a concerto for duo-pianists and chamber orchestra, is at its core both a celebration of HOCKET (Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff) and their unique performance voice as well as a piece in memoriam Steven Stucky, the wonderful composer and close personal friend we lost in February 2016.  During the course of about twenty minutes, the soloists play at the keyboard (piano 4-hands), inside the piano (plucking and harmonics), and on two toy grand pianos.  There is a progression of stage movement built into the piece:  both Sarah and Thomas start at the piano keyboard, then Thomas moves to play inside the piano while Sarah is still at the keyboard; Thomas returns to the keyboard, then goes to the toy piano, then Sarah joins at the other toy grand, and so on.  And the River is significantly about color: in addition to the soloists there are a pair of percussionists playing flower pots, cymbals, tuned cowbells, log drum, etc. with a compact chamber orchestra of woodwinds, brass and strings (double string quartet and bass).  It is also a journey.  The title comes from Thomas Wolfe’s book, Of Time and the River, with this epigraph in the score:

“At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being...It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, the congruence of blazing and enchanted images, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed...”

- Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River  

‘The river’ is, of course, a common but important metaphor for the passage of time. The music of And the River is this metaphorical river and the things being carried on it – different kinds of music that may suggest different eras, a reflection on the inevitable passage of time and passage of a life.  There is a fragment from Steven Stucky’s piece The Stars and the Roses (2013) embedded in And the River, a kernel of musical DNA forming the basis for the entire work.  And the River is in part a journey through this fragment of material which I found so deeply moving when conducting The Stars and the Roses for the first time within a month or two of Steve’s death.

And the River is a co-commission with Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival and the Oberlin Sinfonietta, and was completed in March 2018.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       - Donald Crockett