for piano quintet; 17′ (2009)
1. Gently expressive, like a lullaby
2. Semplice, con moto
3. Lento, tenderly, never stagnant
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“For Lotte, Asleep” was written in fits and starts over the course of about 2 years, while my eldest daughter was napping. Every day of Lotte’s infancy, I found myself with a half-hour or so of blissful quiet while she napped, and so I naturally couldn’t help but fill that blissful quiet with blissfully quiet music. The result was this piece for string quartet and piano: three contemplative meditations on my first child as she snoozed in her crib. While I mainly wrote this piece sitting at my laptop computer, I could never escape the sense that the music should be full of inward thoughts, repetitions, rocking motions, and soothing gestures, so as not to wake Lotte from her hard-earned sleep.
In that spirit, all three movements of “For Lotte, Asleep” are relatively slow, in keeping with the lullaby-inspired mood of the piece. Also, all three movements are in the key of C major, which in my mind evokes the simplicity of childhood, and songs played on toy pianos with no black keys. And all three movements are centered around motives that begin with the pitches A-natural & B-natural, or “La” (a note to follow So) and “Ti” (a drink with jam and bread), so that every melody grows out of “LaTi,” the sound of my daughter’s name.
Within those rather tight constraints and that consistent atmosphere, the music explores a variety of textures and dramatic shapes. The sound-world of the piece moves fluidly between passionate Romantic sounds, slowly unfolding processes borrowed from minimalism, inspirations from pop songs and jazz improvisation, and Classical simplicity. Yet while I enjoy exploring all of those genres and concepts, the overall idea is much more basic: just to create music that moves towards peace, and to express pure joy and love for my daughter.
Special thanks to my wife Kelly, without whom none of this would have been possible, quite literally.