Three Copper Clocks (composed November 2013) is a three-part piano solo inspired by a large copper plated grandfather clock from childhood which fascinated me for hours waiting for the clangorous and sonorous sounds to ring at a precise moment in time.
The first movement is a rapid succession of one-note at a time melodies crossing between hands and varying ranges across the full extent of the instrument. It is infused with moments of Bachian reflection and sensuality. It is very well crafted and very colorful in its imaginative special effects that propel forward with a sense of motion and ‘tick’ in off-beat ricocheting designs that are not steadily directed but yet the silent pulse of the piece is felt. It is colorful ‘orchestrated’ in contrasting timbres and tessitura across the keyboard and often push the limits of the extreme ranges into a unifying body of warm centers of clearly heard bodies of sound, although disparate in range and rhythm. The yearning tonality that the brain pieces together form a highly accessible and pleasing level of entertainment and make us feel emotion, despite the disparity of disassembled rhythms, tempi and broken chordal outlines.
Broadly speaking, the first movement is tonal and mostly consonant and, following the interruptive silence before the second movement, a largely dissonant, bell-like and heavily ponderous second movement emerges. Intoning bell-like imagery, the stylistic divisions effectively reflect a fundamental darkening of contrasting tone and atmosphere that live within the lives and character of clocks. While keeping time is a chief function of the instrument, this movement seeks to exploit and distill time by stripping away pulse and regular intervallic gestures of rigidity. An assiduously stage performance of the aural slow-motion of the ringing of a clock’s chimes is not meant to be suggestive poetic, though not strictly programmatic. Rather, it is a musically and scenically vivid creation of extraordinary poly- and cacophonic images full of moods and personality that unravel and dissect the superficial and psychological vastitude of natural sound in vivid and striking detail.
The third movement suggests a wild, desperate desire of aural sounds run amok, capable of dissonant, suspenseful scoring in permutations of dark, moody contrapuntal strains and fragments. Solidly wrought and carefully timed, compelling and frighteningly alarming sounds aspire to cast a realism over the shadow of the keyboard’s full resources of richly hued timbres and dense textures in extreme regions. This hauntingly beautiful and austerely set coloration of the soundscape of timepieces, the supernatural, brightly colored jagged and dissonant intense piece move beyond the easy accessibility of the tonally rooted first movement. Growing increasingly dissonant and more complex as Three Copper Clocks explores and magnifies the subject, the intertwining and relentless drive of the work is palatable and successful in its use of motifs and exploration of space and punctuating silences that open the score to unifying and opposite conceits – affirming its position as an impactful and remarkably effective new work, sure of command and language in discovering the space between tonal and non-tonal worlds.
for Piano Solo