The Comfort of Angels
ORCHESTRATION: 2 pianos
DEDICATION: to the memory of Jason Schenker
AVAILABILITY: Novello & Co. London
PREMIERE DATE: March 20, 1996
Matthew Quayle and David Schober
Warner Concert Hall, Oberlin, Ohio
The Comfort of Angels was written to commemorate the life of Jason Schenker, my pupil at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, who suddenly passed away in January 1996 at the age of twenty-two. Jason was a promising young composer of unique talents and would, I believe, have been an important voice in American music, had he lived on.
My work is in three movements which are played without a break. Melody predominates in the two outer movements, as the pianists play in counterpoint with each other at different pulse speeds. Two monodies, played by Piano II, are at the heart of the matter in the first movement. The second movement is fast, “funky” , and dance-like. I hope it has some of the energy and humour with which Jason characteristically expressed himself. The third and final movement is a meditative Chorale in D flat major, which incorporates a fragment of the Peacock Song from my opera Broken Strings.
The pianists David Schober and Matthew Quayle, two gifted students of mine, were also Jason’s classmates. They brought the work to life in its first few performances on 20 March and 8 May in Oberlin, Ohio and 13 July, 1996, at the Almeida Theatre, London.