Phantasms (2016) for piano quartet
Performed by the Caspian Piano Quartet
Ji Won Song, violin
Jiali Li, viola
Zi Wang, cello
Kyle Orth, piano
Caspian Piano Quartet - Honors Recital, New England Conservatory, Jordan Hall, 5/9/17.
I have always been fascinated with and in awe of our ability to dream while we sleep. We can see and experience color, shape, nature, emotion, sound, people, stories, and anecdotal incidents-and-episodes that may be true or untrue, a brief moment from the past or a glimpse into a potential moment in the future that may be completely legitimate and warranted or utterly preposterous and nonsensical. We consistently notice the unpredictabilities, delicacies, and absurdities of our own dreams. Many scholars and philosophers have studied our ability to dream and the science of interpreting dreams. I was once taught as an adolescent by a respected and learned intellectual that some scholars before our day interpreted our ‘good’ dreams to be ‘bad’ dreams, and our ‘bad’ dreams to be ‘good’ dreams. Although I initially found that interpretation to be captivating, the vagueness of that particular interpretation made it difficult for me to fully grasp its potentially deeper meaning (or meanings). However, I nevertheless remain fascinated, as I still dwell on and consider the interpretation when I attempt to decipher my own dreams.
I often feel a sense of enchantment when I vividly remember a dream when I awaken, but the empty spaces and voids throughout the fragmented and dying visions of our minds are what may be the most challenging, and quite possibly the most interesting remnants to remember, grasp, and re-embrace. Our nebulous visions may recur in many dreams, or they may occur only once, ever so briefly. Phantasms was not composed with any specific or personal images or phantasms in mind, but rather the idea of these illusionary and mysterious images and constructs of our imagination were transformed, spliced, and sewn together into the foundational musical elements of the piece.
Phantasms was commissioned by violinist Léo Marillier and Inventio. It is dedicated in celebration and gratitude to Léo Marillier and the foundation of ‘Inventio.’ It was premiered by Léo Marillier (violin), Charlotte Malin (viola), Joseph Gotoff (cello), and SoYoung Sarah Yang (piano) at the Fondation des États-Unis in Paris, France on June 8th, 2016.