Preludes 1 – 6
performed by Eliza Garth in recitals on
Stories I Cannot Tell You
For chamber orchestra. commissioned by the League of Composers / ISCM. Premiered by the Orchestra of the League of Composers, conducted by Louis Karchin. May 2017 in Miller Theatre, NYC.
Movement 1: Updraft
Movement 2: Lost Waltz
Movement 3: Blackbirds Flew by, and he almost fled the scene, as if drawn by them…
‘Stories I Cannot Tell You’ is in three movements of approximately the same length, that are roughly, fast – slow – fast, played without pause. The work opens with a steady, slow beat in the bass drum followed by upward sweeps, each a tad different from its predecessor. Fragments and phrases appear, dissolve and reappear, as we wander deeper into a progressively darker ‘story’. Tunes or gestures that had been ‘main events’ turn into transitional events, and with each successive repetition, a phrase is compressed.
In the middle movement, two waltz-like fragments appear in A-B-A form, bracketing a vibraphone solo – reminiscent of cocktail music from the early 1960s, trying to be lighthearted but falling short. It exits, submerged in dark pulsing chords in the strings, alternating with winds.
In contrast to movements one and two, the third movement pursues its dark musical business directly. Here we have a straightforward narrative experience, with an ominous tune in three short phrases. Imagine a flock of blackbirds flying south, high in the sky, just before dawn. Two people see them; one has just nearly escaped death. The other says, stuttering, “Do you, do you see the blackbirds flying south?” and then, “I see you watching, do you see them?” and finally, “Will you be here when they return?” You may be able to hear the text, ‘sung’ by the brass instruments.