After L'Addio / Felt (2014) is a two movement piece resulting from close collaboration with harpist Ben Melsky. The premiere of this work was planned for a recital in which a performance of Sciarrino's Addio a Trachis preceded.  After... features varying levels of referentiality and filiation with its predecessor, from literal quoting to variation to more esoteric and personal connections. Generally speaking, and not like most Sciarrino, After...is a frantic and highly tactile piece where different levels of friction between hands and strings are syntactically relevant. Felt is the textural opposite of After...in that the contact between performer and instrument is dramatically reduced: the right hand plays with a felt pick for the entirety of the movement and the left hand features, for the most part, harmonics.

 

Tres Decals (2014) consists of an ascending melody over which layers of ornamentation take place. Both the melody and the ornamentation respond to a series of permutational strategies that remain mostly untransformed over the span of the work. Despite the fact that the piece came to be as the layering of rather detached technical moves, my associations as I write this program note point towards the autobiographical: as I finished the piece, I was two weeks away from becoming a father for the first time, my former office literally turned into a nursery decorated with…decals. As a consequence, I tend to map many features of Tres Decals with tropes of infancy: the plain melody with the lullaby, the superimposition of pulses with the music-box, and the pervasive bits of major scales with the pitch material of, for instance, crib mobiles.

 

On Love (2016) is a peculiar take on the radio soap-opera genre. It is in three movements and features two distinct superimposed layers: music and text. The music layer, performed by the instruments and the soprano, constitutes an idiosyncratic re-imagination of William Byrd’s masses. The second layer (that remains "tacet" until the beginning of the second movement) is performed by the actors and could be described as "speech-music". The material employed to compose this second layer is every sentence in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet that features the word “love” plus fragments of two soliloquies: Juliet's in the balcony (act 2, scene 2) and Romeo's at the grave (act 5, scene 3)

 

Canción en Duermevela (2016) is a sound landscape for four guitars. At its basis lies an extended melody (cantus firmus), divided in four shorter sections. Each note of this cantus is consistently harmonized in three-note chromatic clusters, distributed pointillistically among the four guitars, and adorned by an assorment of sounds that are somewhat rare in the traditional repertory of guitar music. “Landscape” and “slumber” are tropes that in contemporary (and not so contemporary) music suggest floating and suspended textures, that appeal to an immersive listening attitude. Canción en Duermevela matches this characterization and incorporates also the unpredictable logic of dreamlike states to juxtapose, in short time spans, motivic materials that might appear disjointed.  

 

In Proa (‘Prow’) (2017) choreography and music revolve around ideas of voyage and displacement, incorporating related imagery such as water, circle, and mirror. The prepared piano mirrors the harp. Its preparation involves a device –built out of cell phone motors– that activates the strings of the piano to produce sounds uncharacteristic of the instrument. All these sounds are performed “live”. Dance and music portray different yet complementary realities. The choreography employs both emotionally and politically charged symbols. The music, on the other hand, is cold, distant and somewhat indifferent. The sound surrounds the dancers immersing them in a multilayered texture while the movement of the dancers lends the music a rhythmic frenzy it does not possess on its own.

 

In the Sight (a dream of the 9th) (2013) is a footnote, an accessory, to Beethoven’s 9th symphony. The opening three notes of the Ode to Joy provide the pitch material of a texture that shifts, as the piece progresses, from pontillistic to homophonic, from kaleidoscopically dynamic to suspended and pensive. The image at work here is of Beethoven falling asleep while composing the 9th, and dreaming: fragments and shards of his Ode to Joy appear (one could say) half-digested in playful counterpoint, with legato melodies of lush highness juxtaposed with clunky clusters juxtaposed with feverishly virtuosic solos. In the Sight slows down as it goes, suggesting a curve of increased melancholy. It thus attempts to mimic the bittersweet emotional state of waking up from a dream so involved you need a few minutes to figure out that a dream was all that was.