This set of preludes for solo piano was inspired by my dream-life: the juxtaposition of and contrast between my experience of subconscious dreams and conscious reality. In a sense, this work is "a garden of the mind."
The first movement, "Promenade," was inspired by my daily practice of walking through Central Park before or after working hours. The somewhat mesmeric ostinato of its middle section depicts "daydreaming;" the movement's outer structures reflect various encounters experienced while walking through the park. "Mardi Gras," the second movement, resulted from a dream I had of the Berlin Philharmonic and its late music director dancing and marching, instruments in hand, down the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans (or was it the West village in New York?!). The cycle's third movement, "childhood Memory," includes its most vivid musical description of waking from a dream. Here I recall a childhood dream in which I discovered nature as nurturer. At the sound of six chimes (depicting 6 am), the dream ends; an evocation of birdsong serves as the coda to this song without words. "From the Underground," the fourth movement, remembers a nightmare from my childhood of imaginary gremlin-like creatures skittering and slithering under the ground in New York. The fifth, and last, movement, "Night," pays homage to both the consoling and frightening aspects of things nocturnal. A chant of bells (transcribed from those which sound at sunrise and sunset each day in the northern Italian town of Bellagio) is heard in the piano's upper registers during the work's final minutes. Thus the beginning and the end of the day are perceived as one.
The Enchanted Garden was commissioned by The Louisiana School for its annual piano festival in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The complete cycle was premiered by Christopher O'Riley on July 4, 1992 at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado.
-- Richard Danielpour