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Joan Tower

Publisher: AMP

No Longer Very Clear
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Solo Keyboard(s)
17 Minutes
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Programme Note
Joan Tower No Longer Very Clear
Composer Note:

The titles for these pieces were taken from lines of a poem by John Ashbery called "No Longer Very Clear." (However, as with Debussy's Preludes, the music came first.)

Holding a Daisy (1996) was commissioned by the pianist Sarah Rothenberg for a recital she was giving in New York City. The image is of a Georgia O'Keefe flower painting, not as innocent as it appears.

Or Like a ... an Engine (1994) is dedicated to the pianist Ursula Oppens who premiered it at Alice Tully Hall in New York City in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the radio station WNYC-FM, which commissioned the work. It is a motoric piece, somewhat like a virtuosic Chopin etude.

Vast Antique Cubes/Throbbing Still (2000) was commissioned by Franklin and Marshall College for the pianist John Browning who premiered both works at The Ann and Richard Barshinger Center for Musical Arts in Hensel Hall at Franklin & Marshall College on September 16, 2000. In Vast Antique Cubes, I wanted to create a sense of a very large space that moved quite slowly from low to high and higher still. Within this reaching upwards, are suggestions of Debussy and Chopin-two composers whom I played frequently as a pianist. By contrast, in the much more energetic and faster Throbbing Still, the music of Stravinsky and the Latin Inca rhythms that I grew up with in South America, continue to play a powerful role-to "throb still" in my music.

--Joan Tower

  • Soloist(s)
    Ursula Oppens and Melvin Chen, piano
  • Soloist(s)
    Heidi Louise WIlliams
    Albany Records:
Continuing in the contemporary music vein, Ms. Huber performed the work entitled No Longer Very Clear by Joan Tower, one of the pillars in the world of American composers today. Each of the four movements relates to a line from the John Ashbery poem, “No Longer Very Clear,” including Holding a Daisy (1996), Or Like a … an Engine (1994), Vast Antique Cubes (2000), and Throbbing Still (2000). It is a challenging and evocative work, thorny, and of great scope (and lasting close to 18 minutes in duration), and Ms. Huber was as persuasive in interpreting it as one could hope for from any pianist.
Rorianne Schrade, New York Concert Review,18/03/2017
No Longer Very Clear is a set of four piano pieces, the titles of which are lines taken from the John Ashbery poem of the same name. This very intimate encounter with Tower’s art reveals a composer of imagination and ingenuity, and one who possesses a profound emotional sensitivity. The writing is brilliant and ranges from Scriabinseque passion of the mystery and exotic beauty found in Messiaen....This release marks an important document of the composer.
Victor Carr, Jr.,,01/01/0001
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