“Fake Palindromes” is the first song I ever heard by Andrew Bird, and it is my mind’s aural portrait of him. The title’s reference to palindromes calls to mind one of Messiaen’s trademarks: the “non-retrogradeable rhythm”, or a rhythmic palindrome. With the inclusion of Bird’s music on this wild Up concert featuring Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques [Foreign Birds], I knew I had to arrange this particular song by Andrew Bird. The piece is not really composed à la manière de Messiaen, not that I would profess the ability to do so. What I did do is borrow a lot of Messiaen’s rhythms and gestures, as well as his ideas of “color chords” and “modes of limited transposition”, and I used a tempo that is très modéré compared to Bird’s original. And I couldn’t resist quoting some of Messiaen’s “birds” (invented or transcribed) in addition to my own “Bird transcriptions”. The other interpretive lens is one of memory and simultaneity. When I remember this song, I hear several versions of it simultaneously (Bird’s own performances are very improvisatory and spontaneous). The introductory material is treated with all sorts of palindromic manipulations, while the chorus is filled with the hyper-sweet planing string melody (reminiscent of Messiaen’s early Debussy-inspired music). In the verse Bird’s melodies mix with those of Messiaen’s birds, very much like Messiaen’s cacophonous aviary in the piano concerto. ~ RV
Richard Valitutto is active in the Los Angeles area as a piano soloist, chamber musician, accompanist, teacher, and writer. He holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati (BM) and CalArts (MFA). In addition to playing with wild Up,he is a founding member of two LA-based chamber ensembles, The Joshua Trio and Gnarwhallaby. More information at www.richardvalitutto.com
The Show: Ornithology
Messiaen, Haydn, Ferneyhough, Charlie Parker and Andrew Bird. And 8 premieres.
January 14th 2012 at 8pm Armory Center of the Arts in Pasadena
Tickets: $15 online at Eventbrite $20 at the door