Program Notes: This piece creates a transition between Gÿgory Ligeti’s “Étude 5: Arc-en-ciel” from Etudes Pour Piano and Issac Albéniz’s “Evocacion” from Iberia - Book 1. Sitting with these two pieces, I found three or four impactful moments within each work. The shared characteristic of each of these moments was the feeling of harmonic stasis. The composers allowed the listener to bask in a sonority used in the context of otherwise restless harmonic palettes. I sat with these select portions of each of the pieces frustrated in how sudden and jagged it felt when I tried to transition between the Ligeti and the Albéniz material. I was trying too hard to find similarities within the given material and forcing them together to be one piece.
Beyond its connection to “Arc-en-ciel,” or “Rainbow,” I feel “Refraction” is an appropriate title for this piece as its definition accurately represents how I was able to find the bridge between these two pieces and ease my frustration. Refraction is a change of direction, a passing between mediums, and a change of velocity which results in the display of something altered or something new. The first chord that is heard is simply a combination of a sonority used in the Ligeti and one from the Albéniz. Slowly, this material begins to separate and split from one another, but it is not necessarily a clean break. There is overlap, sharing, and new sounds and combinations begin to form. The sound becomes less ridge and begins to loosen giving way to short melodies echoing quotes from the given material. The sudden and jagged changes that once irked me begin to make sense as changes of velocity within the framework of the piece. This first chord acts like white light does to a rainbow–everything needed to create the rainbow is contained in the white light, but it does not reveal itself until going through the process of refraction. Everything needed for this piece to expand is contained in the first chord, but the process of rearranging and separation is what reveals the completely altered theme that takes over the final moments of this piece.
Premiered by Phuong-Nghi Pham on November 12th, 2017 Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center at Amherst College
– Score available. Please contact Dan with all inquires. –