Pianist Lost: Excesses and Excuses, v. 1

*For all pieces you can either download or play on the site.

Recorded at 9,000 feet, these pieces present a sampling of what the key of D Flat meant to various composers: rain, dance, countryside, evening, moonlight. You can listen to them as you read about them. Hopefully any excesses are excused adequately in the accompanying text. D Flat is a very accommodating key.

1. Chopin: Nocturne. Our bucolic dreams of night drop away from darker moments and crimes of passion (mostly imaginary).

2. Chopin Prelude. Majorca’s romantic damp locked in a death grip of betrayal, sugar-coated in D Flat euphemisms.

3. Debussy: Reflets. Rain, wind, and drips shake and coat the Impressionist trees of a Paris park.

4. Satie: Sarabande. A breathless, timeless suspension of rhythm in the midsummer woods, in which moonlight hides.

5. Rachmaninoff: Moments. A rare and unlikely Spanish barcarolle slowly twirls around Andalusian leaves far away from the desolate steppes: only the very end contains a nod to the major-minor meme of the Kazaks.

6. Liszt: Paysage. The undulating countryside of F Major contains a bucolic center in D Flat, an eclogue to the summer glades sweltering around Paris in 1826, when Liszt was 15.

7. Copland: Country Lane. The F Major country lanes of Bedford lead to high, open, transcendent horse meadows in D Flat.

8. Liszt: Sospiro. An eidolon, a phantom rises out of its accompanying breezes but eventually subsides again in the rusting glades of night.

9. Liszt: Harmonies. The day builds up to a fulgurant sunset, immense chords made of clouds, a dark made of colors.

10. Chopin: Berceuse. Here also the melody rises out of the placid left hand accompaniment to rock the listener to sleep as softly as any nocturne.

11. Debussy: Clair de Lune. Moonlight falls on alabaster statues in the haunted Tuilleries after closing.

12. Liszt: Consolation. Liszt needed his own excuses for his early passions, and here the world is put to bed with the zeitgeist, with Liszt’s own belief in the eternal.