Works

June 29, 2014 First Church Boston 11:00-12:00 p.m.

The Book of Blues
music and words by Larry Bell

Philip Lima-baritone voice
Larry Bell-piano
live streaming on WERS.org
88.9 FM (Emerson College radio

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June 25-26 First Church Boston 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Postlude from Liturgical Suite

Paul Cienniwa-organist
American Guild of Organists conference

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Twelve Lyric Preludes (2012) Op. 116 

Opus number: op. 116

Title: Twelve Lyric Preludes

Written for: Angel Ramon Rivera and the NEC Preparatory School Piano Seminar

Date written: 2012

Length: twenty-one minutes

Premiere performance: March 2, 2013, Today’s Youth Plays Today’s Music, NEC’s Preparatory Division Contemporary Festival. Twelve students of A. Ramon Rivera

Subsequent performance: May 24, 2013, Pierce Hall at New England Conservatory, students of A. Ramon Rivera

Program notes: Twelve Lyric Preludes, Op. 116, were written for and dedicated to Angel Rivera’s Intermediate Seminar at the NEC Preparatory School. They were first played in March of 2013 as part of the annual “Today’s Youth Plays Today’s Music” festival. Earlier in September of 2012 the composer played the first four and the last four of these preludes in a concert at David Friend Recital Hall at the Berklee College of Music and in a service at First Church Boston.

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INGS (2011) Op. 115

Opus number: op. 115

Title: INGS, Ten bagatelles for piano

  1. Chasing Rainbows
  2. Taking One Step Fowrd and Two Steps Back
  3. Bending Over Backwards
  4. .Leaping to Conclusions
  5. Blowing Your Own Horn
  6. Facing the Music
  7. Whistling in the Dark
  8. Twisting in the Wind
  9. Stopping to Smell the Roses
  10. Jumping for Joy

Dedicated to: Angel Ramon Rivera and the NEC Preparatory School Piano Seminars

Date written: 2011

Length: seventeen minutes

Premiere performance: January 28, 2012, NEC’s Today’s Youth Plays Today’s Music. The Intermediate and Advanced Piano Seminar Classes of A. Ramon Rivera.

Program notes: These ten bagatelles for piano, collectively titled INGS, are designed for the young intermediate pianist. Each piece is based on an idiomatic phrase such as “Chasing Rainbows” or “Blowing Your Own Horn.” Each of these phrases starts with a gerund whose first word ends with “ing,” hence the title INGS. The works were written in the summer of 2011 for Angel Ramon Rivera and the students of the piano seminars he teaches at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School.

Many of these bagatelles were inspired by Beethoven, particularly his set of Bagatelles, Op. 126. The language here, however, is drawn from a type of modal harmony most clearly associated with popular song of the 1960s and 70s. Moreover, the ironic character of these pieces comes from the frequent use of chromatically mirrored chords that are at once organic and yet surprising. Taking into account the young pianists at New England Conservatory, special attention was paid to use keys, scales, and chord configurations that conform to smaller hands.

 

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PIANO ETUDES (Book 1)  (2010) Op. 109

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Opus number: op. 109

Title: Piano Etudes (Book 1)

  1. Veloce
  2. Doloroso, con rubato
  3. Scherzando
  4. Vivace
  5. Andante cantabile
  6. Risoluto
  7. Agitato
  8. Andante con moto
  9. Semplice
  10. Allegro con fuoco
  11. Allegro
  12. Decisivo

Written for: Angel Ramon Rivera

Date written: 2010

Length: 25 minutes

Premiere Performance: NEC’s Contemporary Festival, Today’s Youth Plays Today’s Music, January, 2011, Students of A. Ramon Rivera.

Subsequent performances: May 19, 2011, Jonathan Bass in Brown Hall at New England Conservatory, Boston, Piano Etudes nos. 8, 10, 11, & 12

Program notes: Piano Etudes, Op. 109, are twelve etudes for piano that were first performed by Angel Ramon Rivera’s piano seminar in 2010 for NEC’s annual “Today’s Youth Plays Today’s Music.” Later in 2010 pianist Jonathan Bass played the four of the etudes on a recital in NEC’s Brown Hall.

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FIFTEEN TWO-PART INVENTIONS (2008) Op. 96

Opus number: op. 96

Title: Fifteen Two-Part Inventions

Invention No. 1 in C major (White Hot)
Invention No. 2 in c minor (Feelin’ Blue)
Invention No. 3 in D major (Victory Lap)
Invention No. 4 in d minor (Dorian Canon)
Invention No. 5 in Eb major (Night Flight)
Invention No. 6 in E major (Midsummer Air)
Invention No. 7 in e minor (Wayfaring Stranger)
Invention No. 8 in F major (Lydian Accents)
Invention No. 9 in f minor (Pianola)
Invention No. 10 in G major (Mixolydian Etude)
Invention No. 11 in g minor (Which Side Are You On?)
Invention No. 12 in A major (Anthem)
Invention No. 13 in a minor (Ballad)
Invention No. 14 in Bb major (Parody)
Invention No. 15 in b minor (Rock Riff)

Date written: 2008

Length: 25 minutes

Premiere performance: October 9, 2008, David Friend Hall at Berklee College of Music, Larry Bell, pianist

Important subsequent performances: January 31, 2009, NEC’s Today’s Youth Plays Today’s Music, students of Angel Rivera, at New England Conservatory. May 3, 2009, students at The Rivers School.

Program Notes:  Like J. S. Bach’s fifteen two-part inventions, this set of inventions both follows his same pattern of keys and is designed for didactic purposes. The titles, such as Invention no. 1 in C major, are used only in a metaphorical sense, since none of these pieces is, strictly speaking, tonal. No. 1 could be more accurately described as pandiatonic, no. 2 uses a blues scale, no. 3 is in the dorian mode, etc. The piano teacher might consider assigning these pieces–either instead of or in addition to the Bach–to promote a greater understanding of musical structure and to teach the fundamentals of sound production and phrasing.

In terms of musical structure, many of the same kinds of techniques and contrapuntal procedures one finds in Bach’s inventions are here, too. Most of the subjects are imitated conventionally at the octave; the exceptions are nos. 4 and 8 that use imitation at the fifth, while no. 10 imitates at the minor seventh. The presentation of the subject as an accompanying pattern is an unusual feature: It can be seen in nos. 5, 12, and 13. Subjects are generally first introduced unaccompanied; exceptions are found in nos. 7 and 11, which are based on the folk songs, Wayfaring Stranger and Which Side Are You On? respectively.

In addition, the subject often appears in augmentation (no. 1, ms. 15-20), melodic inversion (no. 2, ms. 17-20), modulatory sequences to closely related keys or modes (all Inventions), subject in stretto (no. 3 ms. 15-20), strict canon at the fifth (no. 4, ms. 1-24), cross-accented phrasing and hemiola (no. 8), double counterpoint at the octave (no. 6, ms. 32-35 and in virtually all of the others), and double counterpoint at the twelfth (no. 13, ms. 15-18). Finally, the Invention no. 14 in Bb major comically parodies Bach’s Invention no. 14 in the same key.

For the most part, each invention is written in two parts. As in Bach, the exceptions occur when added extra voices fortify final cadences. Invention no. 12 also begins with a multi-voiced introduction brought back at its coda in mirror inversion. Although pedal markings appear only in no. 2, it is understood that the pianist will use pedal melodically (where slurs are indicated) and harmonically (at changes of root succession). Accents should be pedaled (as in no. 15) to achieve a better quality of sound.

Because these pieces are written in a contemporary vernacular idiom, I hope that this music may be more stylistically accessible than music written in the eighteenth century. These Inventions were composed for students of all ages, especially those new to the piano but familiar with popular music.

Recording: Casa Rustica Recordings CRR 001, Larry Bell, pianist

 

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CONTEMPO Ten contemporary piano duets for intermediate pianists (2008) Op. 94 

Opus number: op. 94

Title: Contempo

  1. Angry Tango
  2. Wistful Waltz
  3. Revenge Blues
  4. .Unlucky Love
  5. Southern Serendade
  6. Risky Romance
  7. Tap Dance
  8. Melancholy Ballad
  9. Dazzling Duo
  10. Swan Song

Instrumentation: Ten contemporary piano duets for intermediate pianists

Commissioned:  A. Ramon Rivera

Dedication: A. Ramon Rivera

Date written: 2008

Length: 25 minutes

Premiere performance: January 30, 2010, Today’s Youth Perform Today’s Music, students of A. Ramon Rivera

Program Notes: Contempo, Op. 94, is a set of ten piano duets (piano four hands) written for Angel Ramon’s NEC Preparatory School seminar. The work is notable for its use of the American vernacular and indigenous rhythms of American popular music. Contempo was written in 2008 and first performed at the annual NEC “Today’s Youth Plays Today’s Music” in January of 2009.

 

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REMBERING AL: Idumea Variations (2007) Op. 91

Opus number: 91

Title: Remebering Al: Idumea Variations

Instrumentation:solo piano

Date written: Summer 2007

Length: three and a half minutes

Premiere performance: October 19, 2007, Memorial Church at Harvard University; Larry Bell-pianist.

Important subsequent performances: January 20, 2008, Williams Hall at New England Conservatory.

Program notes: Remembering Al was written in the summer of 2007 after the death of our close friend Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., the Pulitzer-Prize winning historian married to the artist Fay Chandler. I played it at Al’s memorial service, October 19, 2007, held in Memorial Church at Harvard University. Unchanging Love , for brass quintet and organ, was played at the same service.
Excerpt: (coming soon)

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ADAGIO FOR PIANO (1947)  by  Roger Sessions

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