1: Spanish Dreams; 2: French Dreams; 3: American Dreams
Duration: 9:00
Date of Composition: 1981
(recording: Yvar Mikhashoff; Spectrum SR-310)

PROGRAM NOTES: Written in 1981, the Three Nocturnes represent a stepping stone between late-modernism and postmodernism. Style (which is hardly a concern with the modernists), mixed with the flavor of distinct cultural idioms, creates these nocturnal dream moods.

The first, Spanish Dreams, is tinged with habañera rhythms and allusions to guitar arpeggios; sweet intervals of the sixth and third predominate.  Spanish Dreams is dedicated to the pianist-musicologist, Emilio Ros.

French Dreams recalls the mood of Fauré and Debussy although it is constructed using serial procedures.  Beginning with groups of 16 pitches, each pattern is repeated once in a permuted ordering before a new group is presented.  This process continues to midpoint, where the number of pitches in each group is gradually diminished until the piece dissolves on one long high ”G,” repeated 30 times as soft as possible.  The piece is dedicated to Robert Dallmeyer, in whose Paris apartment it was written.

 American Dreams is as stylistically omnifarious as the American culture and landscape.  Hymnody (Thomson), jazz (Gershwin), open “prairie-style” harmonies (Copland), and serial pointillism (Babbitt) are peacefully juxtaposed without transition. The final phrase injects a smidgen of Ivesian high jinks, but not enough to disturb the dreamer.  American Dreams is dedicated to the New York publisher-restaurant chef, Ed Snider.

-James Sellars