The piano piece Shadows was composed in 1994 and is the result of a challenge from painter and sculptor Alvaro Rocha (1932-2010), who prompted me to write a musical work from a book that he was conceiving. Shadows (the book), consisted of a series of ink drawings, to which the painter added water which he spread with his fingers. Each of the drawings was accompanied by a title, whose sequential read stood out as a kind of expanded visual poem.
Impressionist connotations are thus very present in the composition, in particular through the frequent use of the whole-tone scale, evoking the water present in the pictorial technique of the author and the diffuse staining it causes. It was not my intention, however, to follow step by step the sequence of drawings, but rather translating sensations, from those who seemed to be their most important thematic links.
Shadows is divided into six parts, emanating from a theme that is omnipresent throughout, with varying degrees of evidence, density and character. The frequent parallel movements between both hands constantly invoke the dichotomy Light-Shadow. The six different parts may be characterized in the following manner:
1. Lento – poco piu mosso - The relation between Light and Shadow, intersected by the flutter of a bird and the gurgle of Life among Nature.
2. Moderato giocoso – The marionettes, lightened by brief evocations of the main theme, ending with the calmly descending Light.
3. Andante tranquillo – The subtle floating of the balloons that rise and fall.
4. Drammatico - Tranquillo - Agitato – Christ crucified, arbitrating the struggle between Good and Evil. The Christ theme evokes a cross in the score, while the Good is portrayed by the main theme in perfect fifths and the Evil by the same theme in diminished fifths, a musical interval historically associated with the Devil.
5. Largo –The tranquility between Man and Nature
6. Grandioso - Presto agitato – The triumph of Light, culminating in the liberation of the marionettes and the blasting of the balloons, “in the twirl of destinies”.
Luís Pipa, March, 2011