Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

for Violin and Piano

Written for violinist Timothy Fain and dedicated to Mitchell and Lynn Lathrop.
 
 

Program Notes:

Metamorphoses for Violin and Piano had its origin in Mary Zimmerman’s stage adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The play is an interpretation of several of the myths and has an emotional immediacy that is at once striking and very moving. Many of the tales of transformation speak to the power of love and embody a beautiful, fragile humanity.
 
A number of the myths as told in the play inspired the piece:
 
Phaeton, the son of the sun god Apollo, flies his father’s chariot too close to the sun, and tumbles to ruin in the sea. The daring, headlong virtuosity of the solo violin lines in the fast outer sections at times ascends perilously close to oblivion. Disaster is (hopefully!) narrowly averted…
 
Alcyon and Ceyx are lovers separated when Ceyx dies at sea, but are transformed and reunited as birds that fly together and make their nests on the ocean. The frequent intermingling of the undulating high violin and piano lines and the oxygen-thin, floating nature of the high violin writing derive from this image…
 
Narcissus becomes enchanted with his own reflection in the water, transforming into a flower. The languid, reflective nature of the solo piano passages in the slow middle section and the mirror-like material between the left and right hands embodies this introverted character…
 
Baucis and Philemon, an old couple who show kindness to Zeus when he appears disguised as a beggar, are rewarded with eternal life as trees that grow together. The image of twisted, tangled vines as a symbol of two souls connected through love is a powerful one, and is embodied in the intertwined melodic lines of the slow middle section of the piece…
 
Fittingly, the music itself underwent a “metamorphosis”, from a series of distinct sections derived from the Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses to a more abstract, continuous evocation of the myths and the emotional resonance of the work.