Mike Gallope – Piano
Warner Concert Hall — Oberlin, Ohio
Much like the name chain black cadillac suggests, this solo piano work teems with a kind of late-romantic opulence and 20th century grit. It was my desire to write a work that probed my two favorite piano “sounds”: The elegance and luminance of slow-motion arpeggios and well-spaced chords which beautifully resonate when the sostenuto pedal is depressed and the jagged and percussive brilliance which come from playing loudly and with muscle.
Composing chain black cadillac became an explorative process for me, in that I wanted to find a way to link these two polar pianistic sounds together in a single statement. The title (which came first, before a note was written) suggested an overall plan to me, in that these sounds should be placed together in a single unbroken chain. The piece would also be cast in subdued and shaded harmonic timbres and the piece would allow the pianist to demonstrate a virtuosic control of the keyboard.
Musically speaking, the piece is an exploration in ways to both demonstrate and obfuscate the sense of speed. Throughout the 15-minute work, the piano is in a constant state of acceleration (much like the Playmates 1958 novelty song Beep Beep, to which this piece owes a conscious nod), which is not always apparent to the listener, as it is hidden from their ears by the layering different temporal strati. This veiling of speed is either done against a regular pulse, as in cordillera, or against an invisible and phony pulse, as in anochecer; it is not until the last section where the accelerando becomes apparent, as the music struggles to reach a climax through the appropriation of a very late 19th century popular tune.