Child’s Play (2013)
for Two Pianos
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Performed on April 10, 2014 at the University of Texas at Austin
Young children are able to interact in a coherent and complex manner long before they obtain the faculties to communicate in any “adult” sense. In the earlier stages of development, this interaction is guided largely by imagination, yet it retains such a high degree of synchronicity. Child’s Play is a fantasy on this phenomenon; the relationship between the two pianos is precise and well coordinated, while the material wanders or fluctuates between sections. The piece is written as a series of vignettes in which much of the melodic and harmonic content presented in the introduction becomes re-contextualized in each vignette.
The first (and longest) of these vignettes, which begins after the introduction, imagines two children playing before bedtime. It begins with a simple melody, passed between the two pianos, which is cut short several times by sudden outbursts. After several iterations, the interaction between the pianos becomes more whimsical and eventually winds down. One interrupts the other several times, as if to keep it awake, but both eventually stop with a very brief return to the introduction.
The next vignette presents a dream-like scenario in which the two pianos are more disconnected at first. The theme is initially played by only one piano, and when both finally synchronize, it quickly dissolves into an ethereal sequence of rising scales. Again, this vignette ends with one piano trying to “wake the other up,” and it ultimately returns once more to the introduction.
The final vignette also serves as a coda. It paints a chaotic scene in which the interaction between the pianos is rhythmically intense and the pitch material is more chromatic. Sudden changes in dynamics and register at the very end of the piece suggest that everything has gotten way out of hand....
The title in no way reflects the level of difficulty of this piece.