For most of us, our visual senses galvanize our creative sides. Indeed, composers have long taken inspiration from the visual arts, and painting in particular. But the result of trying to compose and convey the passage of time from a single visual image often leads to more questions than answers. Can we really hear what we see in a painting? How can we as listeners relate to a composer’s well-intentioned attempt to meld the aural and visual?
This is a program of piano masterpieces, all of them quite different. But they were all directly inspired by a painted canvas, a static moment in time. All of this music was composed before the advent of modern-day technologies and internet capacities. It’s a given that everywhere you turn nowadays, music is set to images. But usually, very little is left to the imagination, which is where this program comes in!
Except for the Cage, all of these pieces were composed prior to the ubiquity of movies and television which we saw by the end of the last century. Slides of the paintings which inspired the pieces will be projected at the beginning and end of each piece. In between, there will be a few choice slides of other works by visual artists who were directly inspired by the initial painting. The listener will be left with more context for both the music and the images, and more of a sense of their mutual enrichment.
Works to be performed on the “Pictures at an Exhibition” program include:
Enrique Granados, selections from “Goyescas” (Goya)
John Cage, 4’33″ (Rauschenberg)
Franz Liszt, Spozalisio (Raphael)
Claude Debussy, L’isle joyeuse (Watteau)
Modest Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition (Hartmann)