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David Borden - Double Portrait

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by AndyLeeG4, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. AndyLeeG4

    AndyLeeG4 New Member

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    Here's a recording of David Borden's Double Portrait for two pianos that I recorded with Dr. Andrew Granade. I've included Borden's bio and own program notes for the work below. Enjoy.

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    Double Portrait derives its name from Double Edge the two-piano team for whom I composed it. Edmund Niemann and Nurit Tilles who comprise the team, asked me to write a piece for their New York debut at Town Hall in March of 1987. Unlike other pieces of mine in their repertory (mostly from The Continuing Story of Counterpoint , this piece is intended for acoustic pianos only; the others can have multiple realizations including electronic instruments mixed with amplified acoustic ones.

    The portrait idea comes from my long-standing fascination with this genre of painting from Rembrandt to Chuck Close. The piece begins with each player playing a distinct solo in sequence, with no break, then playing the two solos simultaneously to make a new whole. Those who know my work will recognize this approach as another manifestation of my interest in Buckminster Fuller’s ideas on synergy as well as my particular approach to counterpoint. I sometimes not only combine two or more melodic lines but also two entire keyboard parts.

    Double Portrait is made up of five sections with a Coda. The first section is an exposition of the two basic ideas which make up the piece. After the opening, these two ideas are presented simultaneously traveling through different modes, beginning with and returning to the Aeolian.

    In the second section the players trade each other’s basic musical ideas; the material that Player One had in the opening is now played by Player Two and vice versa, but with some slight changes. This section explores a previous accompaniment figure in augmentation, bringing it more to the foreground, eventually joined in two-part counterpoint to form a kind of crab canon. This develops into three-part counterpoint using the same augmented figure in inversion finally joined by the opening five-note melodic figure in retrograde so that Player Two’s part for the second section ends in four-part counterpoint.

    Section Three begins with Player One continuing the sixteenth-note continuous rhythmic patterns but with chords instead of contrapuntal melodic writing. This adds some density as does Player Two’s arpeggiated triads near the bottom range of the piano (an idea I borrowed from my Continuing Story of Counterpoint, Part Eleven). Player Two also has, in the right hand, continuous sixteenth note figures outlining perfect intervals of fourths and fifths alternating with figures outlining thirds and sixths. These intervals are derived from the opening five note melodic idea.

    Later in Part Three, Player One’s left hand has the low triad arpeggios alternating with low range octave statements of the opening five-note idea, increasing the energy once again. The right hand plays an inversion of an original Player Two accompaniment figure. Player Two plays a two-part texture of broken triads and a retrograde of one of its own original accompaniment Figures. All of these ideas alternate and recombine during Part Three, adding an intensity that wasn’t present before.

    Sections Four and Five are more compact than the preceding sections and serve to add to the ever increasing intensity using the same material in various guises. The Coda has the effect of finally reaching the clearing after a long climb. The texture, while still thick and loud, is less complex and eventually leads to some moments of silence for the first time in the piece. The material used for both players is from Player One, Part Three and Player One’s opening Solo, this time embellished in triadic form instead of single melodic notes. After a false cadence in e minor, the piece finally comes to a close with repeated short loud c minor triads seemingly having trouble coming to their final destination.

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    David Borden was educated at the Eastman School of Music and Harvard University. He was also a Fulbright student in Berlin Germany, where he studied at the Hochschule für Musik. He founded Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. in 1969 with the generous support of Robert Moog. The group became the world's first synthesizer ensemble. "Mother Mallard turns out some of the best synthesizer music around." - New York Times. His 'The Continuing Story of Counterpoint,' a twelve-part cycle of pieces for synthesizers, acoustic instruments and voice has been called the 'Goldberg Variations of minimalism.' Four recent books have cited and discussed his work. In keeping with his interdisciplinary approach to his life and work, two of the books deal with American music history, one with music technology and one with the paintings of George Deem: "America's Music in the Twentieth Century" by Kyle Gann (Schirmer Books, New York, 1997); "America's Musical Life: A History" by Richard Crawford (W. W, Norton & Company, New York, London, 2001);"Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer" by Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 2002); "How to Paint a Vermeer" by George Deem (Thames & Hudson, N.Y., 2004). Borden's music is available on the Cuneiform, New World Records, Lameduck and Arbiter labels. He is currently the Director of the Digital Music Program at Cornell University.


    Borden - Double Portrait
     
  2. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    While I am not an ethusiast for modern piano music, I can say that this performance and composition kept my attention throughout. I think it is well played. Thank you for sharing.
     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    This is up, Andy.
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Once again I admire your dedication to contemporary music.

    To be honest, I was ready to switch this off during the introduction... But just in time, it got more interesting and in fact very pleasurable. As often with minimal music, this is vaguely reminiscent of (and maybe inspired by) gamelan music. The link with Rembrandts's paintings or Buckminster Fuller's work sadly eludes me... I think any good music (which this probably is ?) does not need that kind of suggestive and IMO far-fetched connotation. The ending seems rather perfunctory and disappointing after the impressive build-up in intensity... bit of a let-down for me. But I realize a satisfactory ending to a long minimal piece like this is a problem.

    Great job, kudos to you and Dr. Grenade. It is good to have music like this on PS next to the more standard reportoire.
     

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