Microzoic Piano Suite

2012 25 minutes
Baritone, Piano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Trombone, Percussion
Text Michael Harlow
 Kunsthaus, Zürich

Microzoic Piano Suite is a further collaboration with Michael Harlow.

These 13 short texts, recount the life of an artist with all its contradictory qualities like ingenuousness (“boy-man”) und sexual maturity (“The glory of it I thought then and still do”), confidence (“always going to sing their way into the hearts of everyone”) and doubt (’Quand on est dans la merde jusqu’au cou . . .’), seriousness (“After all, said father who had been reading forever discovering one thing and another”) and craziness (“Some thought him a little crazy and others agreed.") plus the important qualities of passion, enthusiasm, sensuality, determination, the readiness to take risks, etc. and the facility to let himself be inspired by nature.

Interesting is the role of the piano in the poem: on the one hand it is a symbol for art in general and on the other an erotic symbol. When the piano celebrates its birthday (“They have birthdays too” ), we notice that art can and should celebrate itself.

Abelian diagram showing the 16 sections of Microzoic Piano Suite
Abelian diagram showing the 16 sections of Microzoic Piano Suite

The form of this work is Abelian (see diagram above). The numbers with ‘§’ correspond to the 13 paragraphs of the poem. Boxes with the same background patern have similar musical content: e.g. the fugue, which one hears at the beginning of section 4 (§3) (“And then there were the children . . ."), appears again in section 13 (§10) (“She played the piano and the flute . . ."), The blue boxes (1, 6, 11 & 16) contain a series of ritornelli (rhythmic fragments, which are also repeated and varied by chance), in which the piano plays the main part.

Microzoic Piano Suite, section 4, §3
Microzoic Piano Suite - § 3
3 And then, there were the children. Who kept arriving, one note after another; a swarm that kept vanishing then returning, full of song. Happy to be so alive, they were always going to sing their way into the hearts of anyone
Michael Harlow
Microzoic Piano Suite, section 13, §10
Microzoic Piano Suite - § 10
10 She played the piano and the flute, sang solo in the choir on more than one delighting occasion. And once was in a fledgling poem and tenderly, called out as that girl Persephone, her breasts bouncing points of light into the air. The glory of it I thought then and still do
Michael Harlow

These ritornelli are at first purely instrumental, but at the end the soloist joins in too.

Microzoic Piano Suite - § 13
13 Years later, inside the piano bench a photograph in sepia waiting to tell a story: we see grandfather a Greek boatman on the Golden Horn, eyeing the camera with an impeccable smile. Moustachios waxed to a point, they look almost dangerous. And he is playing a piano his hands a blur, eyes closed now, and next to him a young boy who is sitting on a cushion of air, he is playing the same piano, his hands a blur and he is looking far into the distance. You could say, he has a look of rapture
Michael Harlow
Microzoic Piano Suite, section 16, §13