Piano and String Quintet (or String Orchestra) (2000)
Premiere: 6 February 2016 / Tenri Cultural Institute, New York, NY 6 February / Marc Peloquin, piano / Bloomington School of Music Faculty Quintet
Instrumentation: Piano and String Orchestra or String Quintet (2vlns.vla.vc.cb)
Dedication: Commissioned by the Bloomingdale School of Music, 2000
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Commissioned by the Bloomingdale School of Music in New York City, the Nocturne was completed on 20 March 2000 in New York City. It is a heavily-revised, final version of Hagen's Romance for Piano and Orchestra (1991) which he premiered on 5 April 1991 as piano soloist with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Leon Botstein conducting. Hagen withdrew the Romance immediately after the premiere and set it aside for revisions. The resulting work is scored for either string quintet (string quartet, plus a contrabass) or string orchestra, and consists of a number of, in the composer's words, 'nocturnal variations' based on a tune given at the outset by the piano.
Peloquin was joined by an ensemble for Hagen’s Nocturne, which is scored for piano, bass, and string quartet. The piece shares with Poulenc and Diamond the virtues of elegance and straightforward communication on the surface with a deep well of feeling underneath.
From a moody piano solo, Nocturnes grows into a lyrical journey from darkness to light. It is full of horizontal and vertical expansive gestures.
The form is roughly like an extended song. What at first appears to be a B section, with energetic syncopations that explore a different mood than the earlier music, turns out to be a snappy, clever, extended coda that sets up the final mood and resolution. The final solo pianoplaying, quiet, dark,and accompanied by Tenri’s rattling radiators, sounded like a serendipitous haunting. (George Grella, New York Classical Review 2/7/16)
(Banner photo: Marc Peloquin)