Category / Instrument
2 pianos and 2 percussions
Commissioned by
Serge Koussetvisky Music Foudation - Festival Messiaen au Pays de la Meije - Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung
New York, Lincoln Center Festival
Yarn Wire : Laura Barger, Ning Yu (pianos), Ian Antonio, Russell Greenberg (percussions)

Travel Notes


Travel Notes moves through imaginary landscapes, or soundscapes, by means of a no less imaginary transportation device. It is also somewhat of a rondo alternating between two types of musical structures. One comes back at varied intervals, like the refrains of a rondo (the "travel" structures), the other always changes - the couplets (the "landscapes").
The "travel" structures: chords that bounce from one piano to the other. These chords, or rather musical objects, can be perceived as timbres, their harmonies being quite rich and complex; a journey sometimes soft and smooth, sometimes harsh... slow, accelerating, fast, decelerating, rarely steady, sometimes mixed with or superposed onto a "landscape" sonic image.
The "landscapes": contrasting textures. Melodies of chords, seemingly improvised solos on piano or vibes (all written of course), flurries of arpeggios, ragged rhythms, large bell-like sounds... one can imagine mountains and chasms, peaceful lakes, whispering cascades, or just listen to the harmonic colors, timbral associations, instrumental gestures, and metamorphoses of sound textures.
More technically, the piece plays with rich sound aggregates and complex resonances, which are either complementary, moving resonances of all instruments, or contrasting. For instance, the musical object that begins the piece is a short, loudly attacked chord on one piano, enhanced by percussion and followed by a resonance of a very different color from the other piano. This acts as a landmark throughout the rest of the work.
Though the piece is for two pianos and two percussionists, the piano writing actually owes more to Liszt than to Bartok... Bon voyage!

Tristan Murail