for violin and piano (2014)
(Banner photo: Livia Sohn.)
I have long desired to craft a pair of fairly short, virtuosic character-pieces replete with sentimental expression and admiring nods to the masters of the salon genre: composers like Gottschalk, and Boulanger, and performers like Serkin and Kreisler. The result is a diptych compriseing Valse Blanche for violin and piano, and Valse Noire, for cello and piano.
Subtitled How Love Comes, Tangiers, October 1958, my Valse Blanche is an operatic-paraphrase based on the two principal themes of my opera A Woman in Morocco. The rhapsodic variations that explore the doomed relationship between two lovers at a Tangiers pensione in October 1958 are by turns lubricious, chaste, tormented, torchy, and doomed.
The piece climaxes with a tune called Love Comes With a Knife. The violin takes the role of Lizzy, a young American journalist; the piano portrays Ahmed, the Moroccan major domo of the hotel. It may, of course, be the other way around.
The duo was written for (and is dedicated to) violinist Livia Sohn and pianist Benjamin Loeb, who recorded it for Naxos Records.
-- Daron Hagen, 2015