composer & pianist


Three Night Moods

Three Night Moods, for two harps and two percussion, was written for Lynne Aspnes, professor of harp at the University of Michigan. The score was written between November 1995 and May 1996. Because of its unique instrumentation and virtuosic ensemble writing, the piece has only enjoyed one performance.

The first movement was originally inspired by two stanzas from a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca, entitled “The Moon Rising”:

When the moon rises
The bells hang silent
And impenetrable footpaths

When the moon rises
The sea covers the land
And the heart feels like an island
In infinity.

The music is not a literal interpretation of the poem; it is simply intended to evoke the mysterious, expansive quality of night. The “form” of this movement is essentially symmetrical – the music basically proceeds to a point and then traces a different path back through the same material.

The second movement is something of a scherzo; for the most part it is full of perky, poky rhythms and an abundance of (harp-like) glissandos. Right in the middle of the movement, things turn distinctly un-scherzo-like, but this is quickly passed over and the movement ends with a satisfying bang.

The third movement finally turns to a more interior, reflective angle, which is largely unattended to in the first and second movements. Some important elements in this movement are: the tension between low, dark chords and rumblings and simple, light melody; the contrast of upward motion and downward motion; and the gentle push and pull between two main tempos.

I chose the title “night moods” because all the movements somehow arose together out of late-night brooding. What ties the three movements together as a whole piece is the large-scale impression of transformation – from the enigmatic, expansive night of the first movement to the small, dark place at the end of the third movement.

© 2001 Gordon Beeferman. All rights reserved.