We got our recording back! It’s less than a month since our Women of the Wind performance, and I am so pleased to be able to share some of it with you. I would love to just stream the whole thing, but one thing that did not come across was our speaking. Most of it was cut out, and what you can hear is dim and unclear. What I’ll do, then, is share one work at a time, and include my introductory material to give it some context.
I was at Eastman with Dana McCormick, and this piece was composed for and premiered by one of my good friends, so I feel that I have a very personal connection to it. It is in the form of a passacaglia, which as all you probably know is a set of melodic variations over an infinitely repeated bass line. A famous example of a passacaglia is the Pachelbel Canon – it’s also a famous canon, of course, but as you know if you have ever played the cello in a wedding, the bass line repeats over and over and over as the upper strings vary and vary the melody.
In this case, McCormick’s form is a little looser, but the basic philosophy is the same. There is a repeating 12-bar chord progression in the right hand of the piano, and the left hand introduces a sparse melody which the oboe then takes over and develops with increasing intensity. In the middle section, the chord progression is still implied, but buried in interior voices amid complicated running notes – I can’t hear it anymore myself, but I worked it all out in the score. As you listen, you may be interested in the challenge of following those chords and fifths and sevenths throughout the work, or you may just want to lose yourself in the gorgeous soundscape she’s created.
When I asked Dana about her piece, she said: it is sort of a love letter to the oboe and high notes and the piano sustain pedal, three of my favorite things in the world of sound. The form let me just really bask in the timbres.
I invite you all to bask with us.
Passacaglia from Sonata for Oboe and Piano by Dana McCormick.
Jennet Ingle, oboe, Ketevan Badridze, piano.