I. alone, inward
III. threatening, fast
Duration: 8 minutes
FIRST PERFORMANCE: Sarah Chang, violin; Andrew Von Oeyen, piano
December 2009, Seoul, South Korea.
The fantasy for violin and piano is a transcription of the second movement of my violin concerto, which I wrote for Sarah Chang and the Pittsburgh Symphony in 2008. This movement has a particularly personal significance to me. I wrote the main melody, first heard in the solo violin, on the day that my daughter, Isabella, was born. I felt a great sense of tenderness toward her, and this feeling somehow translated into that melody. I also had a wonderful moment with her a few days later at home when I was holding her on my lap at the piano just improvising things when I played a certain chord. As soon as I played this chord, she sat upright, completely still and attentive. I was amazed, and she responded subsequently the same way each time. This chord, and the way I played it- as 8 quick notes- is the way I end the piece, and this 8-note figure appears in other harmonies throught the movement, including at the opening, though only in its ‘pure’ form at the very end, as a moment of awakening.
The collaborative process can take many shapes, but at its core it is about getting some place you could not get to on your own. I was so happy to be collaborating with Sarah on this concerto over the past two years- she is an incredibly easy person to work with because her disposition is so continuously sunny, and yet at the same time she exacts of herself the highest artistic standard and works harder than anyone I know. So many times during this process we spoke into the wee hours of the night from the most ridiculous locations, trying thing out back and forth until we were both satisfied. There must be at least a score of passages in this movement that have been worked and reworked to get them to lie just so under the fingers. We met on a few occasions in person, which was a great thrill for me- to hear her big, beautiful sound literally inches away is an experience I would wish everyone could share. In short, of the half a dozen or so concerti that I have written, this was the most actively collaborative, and I think the piece benefited enormously from that. The work is really tailored to Sarah, and I think this is the ideal way to create a new work- to personalize it.