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Neuf Ésquisses .​.​. Hommage à C​.​V​.​A. (2023)

by Thomas Oboe Lee

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I was recently invited to a farewell cocktail party for Robert Levin and Ya Fei Chuang on the occasion of their move from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Salzburg where Ya Fei got a job teaching at the Mozarteum. John Harbison wrote a little piano duet for them, and it inspired me to looking into writing a grand duo for two pianos.

Looking around, I discovered that Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888) wrote a work with the title, "Grand Duo Concertant" for violin and piano. I immediately launched into a search for Alkan the composer and I discovered that he was a contemporary of Chopin, Franz Liszt, George Sand, and Victor Hugo. Like Liszt and Chopin, he wrote tons of music for the piano, and he was at the cusp of fame when he withdrew from society and remained a recluse for the last years of his life.

Aside from the Grand Duo Concertant, I found his 49 Ésquisses to be especially lovely and beguiling.

My work for two pianos is based on ideas from both works. I especially thought the beginning of the GDC fascinating because the LH sounded like a walking jazz bass line. That got me started on the Prelude, and then I organized the remaining movements of the work around the GDC with materials I found attractive in the 49 "ésquisses."

I. Prélude ... Assez animé
II. La Vision ... Assez lentement
III. La Staccatissimo ... Allegro, TRIO
IV. Barcarollette ... Lentement
V. L'enfer ... Lentement, Presto
VI. Grâces ... Assez lentement
VII. Contredanse ... Vivace
VIII. Petit Air Dolente ... Adagietto
IX. Fuguette ... Très carrément

This work is dedicated to Jung-A and Min on the occasion of their wedding ceremony in December of 2023.


released February 7, 2024

Jung-A Bang, piano 1 & 2 (overdubbed)

Recorded in the Fraser Studio @ WGBH
January 30, 2024
Antonio Oliart, sound engineer and post-production editor

Music by Thomas Oboe Lee

© Departed Feathers Music, Inc. - BMI - 2023

Album artwork created by using AI tools

YouTube link: youtu.be/aDtH46RzPDw


all rights reserved



Thomas Oboe Lee Cambridge, Massachusetts

Thomas Oboe Lee was born in China in 1945. He lived in São Paulo, Brazil, for six years before coming to the United States in 1966. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, he studied composition at the New England Conservatory and Harvard University. He has been a member of the music faculty at Boston College since 1990. ... more

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