Violently Calm Entrancement by Malcolm Smith

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Violently Calm Entrancement for piano (1999) 1'15"

For Roxanna Panufnik

This tiny piece depicts a feeling I got from some of the wondrous music of Roxanna Panufnik (daughter of Andrzej), most notably her exquisite quartet Olivia, the Westminster Mass and album Angels Sing, plus a few other works. So my piece is dedicated to her.

This feeling of strong but subtle mesmerism is not unconnected to the Substance-Of-We-Feeling, only this is more esoteric, more mystical than social, and contrasting in character, like a forceful inner trembling, a violent shudder of pleasurable angst, a powerfully gentle bewitching which one doesn't shy away from but is strangely welcomed. I sense this a lot with contemporary music, a tranquil yet otherworldly emanation, shimmering silently from The Quiet Place Within.

The piece juxtaposes fugal fragments of pure harmonic poetry which weave their magic spell in a short time, yet the effect continues long afterwards. It should be played with delicately assured touch, fusing lightness and strength.

Yesterday (after resuming work editing my recording), I dreamt I met Roxanna by chance in a cemetery/churchyard, and presented the manuscript to her and discussed my web page about her father's music which was one of the first online. On awakening, the location seemed an odd place to have met her, possibly related to her father's grave. But I later thought I should take this dream as a cue to finish editing this recording and maybe check her concert diary for a chance to meet up with her...
...and lo and behold! Her next two British concerts are in churches! :-)

UPDATE: So, in September 2011, I made the long voyage down to the Rye Festival to personally deliver my manuscript by hand to her, chatting briefly during the concert interval. She was touched, and said she'd never had anyone write a piece of music for her before (-: So I reminded her that her father had surely done so, which she acknowledged was in fact true :-) It was good to bring my dream to life, although the large church (in the centre of this fine little town) had no graveyard around it like in my dream.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceThis work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceThis work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicencePlay/Download "Violently Calm Entrancement" [1.5MB .ogg file]

Tags: radiant, Contemporary, harmonic poems

[Recorded 2001-08-04 13:30 in Studio 8, Dartington Hall using two AKG C1000S mics into Tascam DA-P1 portable DAT recorder]
{Steinway baby grand piano - Malcolm Smith}

This recording was yet another from my epic last day at Dartington when my playing seemed to come together after weeks of practice and countless failed attempts. After many many hours a decade later sifting through and analysing all the takes, I finally edited this version on 2011-06-11, seamlessly amalgamating Takes 5, 11 and 12 (you might notice a slight speed increase in bar 9, but not a note is out of place!). Like Jewels I left it dry without adding reverb, to enjoy the long sustained notes without adding any more noise onto this already very quiet recording; sadly the piano is a little clattery. This time I even went so far as to overdub missed notes where the keypress was too gentle to trigger it. While it could hardly be described as having a delicately assured touch there is an uncharacteristically deft lightness I never thought I'd achieve. It's amazing what practice (hehe, and digital editing!) can do!

[Scores (and maybe one day more recordings) will eventually be available]

Your feedback is appreciated (but no need to bother asking "Where are the MP3's?")

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Licence © The right to copy is left with the user copyleft Malcolm Smith 2011-06-07 - last updated 2011-11-06 - links verified 2011-06-07