by Shai Wosner June 26th, 2012

Reflections on Michael Hersch “Along the Ravines”

A few weeks ago, with the wonderful support of Seattle Symphony, I had the pleasure of giving the world premiere of along the ravines: fragments for piano and orchestra, a new piano concerto by Michael Hersch, which has come into being with the support of Borletti-Buitoni Trust. This piece is unusual in more than one way. Rather than a concerto, it is a series of fragments for piano and orchestra that are preceded by fragments of poems by the late Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert.  While  the inclusion of quotations of poetry as “mottos” for musical works has been in practice since at least the early 19th-century, I feel that in this piece these fragments are almost part of the music in the sense that they could almost replace the more “mundane” directions such as tempo markings and performance indications with their atmosphere and spirit. It also lends the piece a certain intimacy, as if the composer draws both the musician and the listener into the world of images that may be behind the music.

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