Alterations of Perspective and Perception using 'St. Louis Blues'

CR: 54
Year: 2008
Duration: 14'
Instrumentation: 2 Pianos
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Alterations of Perspective and Perception using 'St. Louis Blues'
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00:00/13:36

When I was in the last few years of high school I regularly received piano lessons from Ton Hartsuiker, who was a wonderful and erudite man that used to have his own radio program about avant-garde music and has meant a lot for contemporary art music scene in the Netherlands. I have very fond memories of his piano lessons, which often lasted 3 hours and were much broader than being only about playing the piano. Ton was always full of amazing stories and anecdotes about art, music, literature and his life, and he showed me books, manuscripts and (reproductions of) art. We drank great coffee, listened to records, and had a lot of fun playing pieces for two pianos (like the fantastic En blanc et noir by Debussy and Sonata for Two Pianos by Stravinsky, which he also had played together with Louis Andriessen in the past), next to the diverse solo piano repertoire I was working on - all of this in his beautiful monumental house in Utrecht.

In the few months before I went to study at the conservatoire in The Hague I decided to write a piece to thank him for the lessons he gave me. Of course I chose to write this piece for two pianos. Since I had played some transcriptions in his lessons of solos by jazz pianists that I was studying (mainly of Art Tatum), which he found very amusing, I decided to write variations on a tune that was used a lot by Tatum in the 30s till the 50s, namely the St. Louis Blues by W.C. Handy. Over the course of the piece, this blues is subjected to 11 stylistically very diverse transformations, a few of these alluding to music we had been working on in his lessons. Although at some points difficult to recognize, the theme is always there.

show past performances
  • 23 April 2009, 20.00, Kees van Baarenzaal, Royal Conservatoire, The Hague, The Netherlands (Premiere)
    JuYoun Shin & Christiaan Richter (pianos)
    Spring Festival

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