Nocturnals for piano

(2001) 16'

for Susan Nowicki

Program note

Nocturnals for solo piano is one of a number of my pieces concerned with the experience of night; in this case, including the passage into and out of night. The first of the three continuous movements (song: evening), in a kind of strophic form, portrays an evening in New Hampshire at the MacDowell Colony where it was composed. The movement ends with a representation of the serenely beautiful hermit thrush song that is heard at the fading of day. The second movement (incantation: twilight), a fantasia, explores the disquietude of the transition into night, twilight being personified as a kind of sorcerer or conjurer calling forth the spirits of night. The last movement (spirits: night), a toccata, is a moto perpetuo of intense play, the frolicking malevolence of spirits, shadows and phantoms that ends with the dispelling songs of pre-dawn birds. Nocturnals was composed for my wife, pianist Susan Nowicki and was premiered by her at the Dorothy Taubman Piano Festival, Williams College, Williamstown MA in July 2002.