Augusta Read Thomas: Bell Illuminations for Solo Piano [Printed Music]



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It is clear, in all Thomas' works, that she has been listening to jazz for over 40 years. She is not a composer of what is sometimes referred to as "crossover" jazz/classical pieces; rather, there is a deeply integrated, digested and well-heard sensibility related to jazz harmonies, flexibility, spontaneity, rhythm and flow in her music of the past 30 years.
Thomas said of the work:

"Although highly notated, precise, carefully structured, soundly proportioned, and while the pianist is elegantly working from a nuanced, very specific text, I like my music to have the feeling that it is organically being self-propelled – on the spot. As if we listeners are overhearing a spontaneous captured improvisation."

The title's word "illumination" has many meanings related to this music, including: radiance, lighting hues, decoration, ornament, embellishment and elucidation. Throughout the dramatic crescendo of increasing virtuosity, speed and volume, musical connections are orbital. Layers of bells are added and a chain-link of transformations, variations and outgrowths unfolds. Sounds crossfertilize and establish organic relationships which, in turn, create new intersections and fulcrum points. The music starts very modestly and, as the inner-life of the sounds percolate and bloom, Bell Illuminations develops into a vivid, plentiful adventure.

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