II. Interlude (Ruminate) III. Nocturne (Cogitate) IV. Ponder (Perpetual Motion)
Watch a video of the whole work from a performance during the LunARt Music Festival, June 2018
When I was commissioned to write Meditations (piano quartet sheet music) for the Central4 Piano Quartet, I was asked to write a piece that could be paired with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major. I wanted to write something that could not only stand alongside of this work, but also be able to
stand on its own. I t was a bit of a daunting task – writing a piece to be paired with any Bach work is like having a giant peering over your shoulder as you write. But I decided to take what I love about Bach’s music – his perpetual motion and his well‐defined themes, and incorporate these ideas into my own work. Some of the memorable themes and motives from the Brandenburg 5 will be obvious, even direct quotes; and at other times I deconstruct the original material, selecting and expanding elements that were interesting to me compositionally. For example, the open 5th’s that bookend the piece are plucked from Bach’s opening outline of a D major chord with the E on top (D‐A‐E). The title of the piece and each movement reflects this idea of meditating on the musical ideas that come from the Brandenburg.
In Movement I (“Contemplate”) the music uses the outline of Bach’s opening measures to introduce the fluid and spacious “meditation” theme. Also introduced is a triplet figure (listen for it in the violin) that is found throughout the Brandenburg and permeates my work as well.
This slow opening eventually breaks into a joyful theme which ecstatically twists and turns building on the familiar opening of Bach’s movement I. And the harpsichord solo in the Bach, which is so virtuosic, makes an appearance in my work as homage to this solo, although in a
much milder manner.
Movements II (“Interlude: Ruminate”) and movement III (“Nocturne: Cogitate”) are linked in theme with snippets of the theme from Bach’s affettuoso movement as well as the triplet gesture. The viola solo of movement II leads directly into movement III where the other instruments join, overlapping and continuing this variation. Without pause, a dramatic shift starts Movement IV (“Ponder (Perpetual Motion)”). Admiring the constant motion of Bach’s music, I wondered what it would be like if that motion fell apart. I decided this movement would begin in the style of a tango and could represent this perpetual motion, but this is not your ordinary tango. It begins dance‐like, but as it progresses, it goes a bit wild, driving through to the end with energy and motion. Listen for the crashing in piano as the movement comes undone!
Movement V (“Reflect”) loosely plays with ideas from Brandenburg movement three. I wanted to take some time to let the dust settle, after the tango movement, and spend some time allowing the music to be beautiful and flowing while wrapping up the themes from the
Brandenburg. In the final section you will hear a grand moment where the triplet gesture that has been heard throughout the piece sweeps through the music, bringing the piece to a close as the original meditation theme concludes the work.
It has been an honor to write this work to be premiered during the Long Beach Bach Festival by
the amazing Central4 Quartet.