Levinson: Morning Star

The opening piece on the Feb. 26 program Linda Reichert and I will play at Penn is a work for piano four-hands, Morning Star, by Penn alum Gerald Levinson. Here is Jerry’s program note on the piece:

Morning Star was originally conceived as an anniversary present for my wife, Nanine Valen, in the hope that we could play it together four hands (you may note that the two players must sometimes operate in close proximity). A few years later, at the time of the birth of our first son Ari (on our anniversary), I expanded the piece somewhat. Eventually, after our second son Adam was born I revised it again, and rededicated it to my wife and both sons – and had to face the fact that it had grown beyond our domestic performance capacity.  It was first performed, and recorded, by James Freeman and Charles Abramovic. It is a study in gently flowing melody, couched in refined harmony, aiming at a luminous and rather timeless atmosphere. In his notes for the recording, Paul Griffiths has written: “The basic B-flat major-ish tonality is …  felt as a root of resonance rather than as a site of action. The uses of the extremes of the keyboard, of major chords with added notes, and of mutings (achieved when one player lightly touches the strings sounded by the other) all accentuate resonance effects, which evoke the distant light suggested by the title, and the inscription from Job: ‘Were you there when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’”

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