THE ROTHKO ROOM: JOURNEYS IN SILENCEand other recent piano works by Haskell Small
HASKELL SMALL, piano
World Premiere Recordings
“...the concept of silence can be interestingly interpreted with music, which is what Haskell Small tries to do in The Rothko Room and A Glimpse of Silence. Small has a particular fascination with silence as interpreted through music: he is a fine and wide-ranging pianist, and one work with which he is particularly associated is the more-than-hour-long Música Callada by Frederic Mompou. With Small’s new MSR Classics CD, devoted entirely to world première recordings of his own music, it is easy to see the silence/sound dichotomy to which Small is attracted... this (+++) CD is a fair introduction to the composer/pianist’s thinking in recent years and in particular to his interest in having his works encompass large themes, including that of silence, within musical structures that verge on the miniature.”
InfoDad.com [May 2014]
Haskell Small Performs A GLIMPSE OF SILENCE (YouTube)
Music is the space between the notes.
I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing, and stretching one’s arms; again transcendental experiences became possible.
Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts — line and circle, wood and stone, black and white — combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination.
Iwamoto Kaoru, 9-dan professional Go player and former Honinbo title holder
Meditations on silence and space are as structurally important to the creative life of Haskell Small as are the grids on his beloved Go board. And, just as with that ancient and revered “game” (using that word advisedly), vast complexity arises. The natural progression that flowed from Small’s relationship with the Phillips Collection—one that bore fruit with the solo piano work “Renoir’s Feast,” commissioned by the Collection to celebrate their great centerpiece painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party”—allowed substantial exposure to the Phillips’ incomparable Rothko room. The four works bought from the artist mostly in the ‘50s struck the fancy of the wonderful collector Duncan Phillips, who said of these pieces (and the artist in general), “What we recall are not memories, but old emotions disturbed or resolved—some sense of well being suddenly shadowed by a cloud—yellow ochres strangely suffused with a drift of gray prevailing over an ambience of rose or the fire diminishing into a glow of embers, or the light when the night descends.”
HASKELL SMALL is an accomplished pianist and composer, who often performs his own works. He has received commissions from such organizations as the Washington Ballet, Three Rivers Piano Competition, Georgetown Symphony and Paul Hill Chorale, and he was the winner of the 1999 Marin Ballet Dance Score Competition. From 2000 to 2003, Small was composer-in-residence with the Mount Vernon Orchestra. In 2005, he completed Renoir’s Feast, a commission by the Phillips Collection to celebrate the return of their beloved painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party. Recently published by PeerMusic, Renoir’s Feast paired with his Lullaby of War, a work commissioned and premiered by noted pianist Soheil Nasseri, are featured in a new recording on Naxos.
HASKELL SMALL (b. 1948)