for solo piano
commissioned by Orion Weiss
Constellations and Toccata was written for and premiered by the great pianist and my dear friend Orion Weiss who shares his name with the well-known constellation. Often referred to as “The Hunter” in Greek mythology, Orion is a prominently visible throughout the world and one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky.
The work is in two parts, with each section drawing inspiration from a different mode of perceiving the universe. The soft, lush, and repeating sonorities in Constellations make up the music I envision for gazing at the night sky: music for hearts and eyes touched by the sheer visible beauty of stars on a clear night. The use of extreme keyboard registers and stagnant and repetitive sonorities creates a shimmering texture. The last gesture evaporates into thin air leading without pause into the Toccata. The Toccata’s opening is all but still, with hushed rumblings that give way to louder, quirkier and more violent outbursts. Running sixteenth notes create a fast perpetual motion, generating a virtuosic flair that snaps the listener out of the spell of the nocturnal sky. This is the universe in the modern age.
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