CHRISTOPHER ROUSE (b.1949): Seeing for Piano and Orchestra, Kabir Padavali for Soprano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 09R070
Description: The piano concerto 'Seeing' is a most impressive single-span work in four clearly delineated sections. The title refers to the way people afflicted with mental illness 'see' their alternative versions of reality, and the terrifying disconnect that occurs between the two worlds. The basis of the work's material is the Schumann Piano Concerto, and title is borrowed from rock guitarist Skip Spence, another musician institutionalized as a result of severe psychosis. Not surprisingly, the work is intense, even harrowing in its stark opposition of coherent tonal material and the brutal, nightmarish intrusion of violently dissonant music. Especially telling are those episodes in which literal quotations of fragments of the Schumann suddenly metamorphose into distorted versions of themselves as though viewed from a skewed perspective, desperately try to regain their stability and finally succumb to the overwhelming pressure of flailing complexicist atonality. The overall idiom remains thoroughly approachable, though, never descending fully into unrecognisable noise, so the final effect is of the tragedy of a fractured psyche caught in a nightmare purgatory between two equally plausible worlds, one 'real' and one not. 'Kabir Songbook' sets poetry by the great fifteenth century Indian poet, whose luminous, mystical verses, full of symbolic imagery, are ideal material for framing in music. Rouse conjures an exotic atmosphere of the mysterious east in his customary largely tonal idiom without obvious imitation of Indian musical styles, though the suggestion of drone instruments, long, highly ornamented melismatic melodic lines, and many felicitous touches of instrumental timbre vividly evoke the way in which one listens to Indian classical music, rather removed as it is from the familiar western concert experience. Hindi (transliterated)-English texts. Orion Weiss (piano), Talise Trevigne (soprano), Albany Symphony; David Alan Miller.