After the past week’s flurry of premières, I’m turning back into a pianist in preparation for a solo recital at Caramoor on June 20. It’s the same program west-coasters might’ve heard in San Francisco, interlacing selections from Janáçek’s On An Overgrown Path with recent works by Caroline Shaw, Eric Shanfield, and Christopher Cerrone. Here’s a “curatorial statement” in answer to your questions: “what and why?”
There’s a good reason for all the evocative titles on this program, which is that all the works are based on visual images, either real or imagined. What I liked was that all the pieces have to do with different mediums, or chains of mediums, like a game of inspirational telephone. Caroline’s Gustave le Gray is named after a pioneer in photography, and is half an analogue to his images, and half an imagined portrait of the photographer himself. Chris was inspired by an artist friend’s rendering of a beautiful brutalist bridge in southern Italy—the two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional form, translated into a musical form. Eric’s Utopia Parkway is an homage to the sculptor Joseph Cornell—musical “objects” move against each other in shifting positions, like the objects in one of Cornell’s shadow boxes.
And it’s not known exactly what inspired the titles of Janáçek’s On An Overgrown Path, though I believe they were given only just before being published—it seems likely they were images or phrases out of his own head. But they are amazingly evocative in a way that is pictorial but nonetheless abstract.
I suppose what I’m trying to “say”, if one can speak through one’s programming, is that the way an artist sees art and the world is not usually confined to a single form or discipline. The qualities that move me in music are the same that move me about a building, a photograph, or a piece of choreography. They’re all related in cryptic ways.
Caramoor is a short Metro-North trip from Grand Central and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s beautiful and the architecture is slightly outrageous. I even composed the bell chimes which summon you To Concert, so the entire evening promises to be something of a Gesamtkunstwerk.