Musiqa will perform Natura Morta by New England-based composer David Rakowski, as a part of The White Album, January 7, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Zilkha Hall.
Natura Morta (2015) was the first piece I wrote after a long and trying bout with a terribly serious symphony. To prepare, I listened to a bunch of piano quartets, most of which were of a serious and heavy heart-on-sleeve nature. I resolved to make mine less serious, and in the spirit of celebrating Milton Babbitt, with a little bit of jazz in it (yes, we talked about jazz in our lessons, or rather, he talked about jazz). So in my piece after a fairly light opening — sprinkled liberally with a strident little upbeat figure — it turns out the violist wants to play that other, serious piano quartet music. The violist drags the other string players along for a while in the serious music, but the piano brings the piece back to its original fun mode.Eventually, the little upbeat figure seems to spawn an episode of stride piano chamber music, and the piece finishes by gradually thickening its original music to a big finish. I called the piece Natura Morta (“still life” in Italian, as in painting) because it had to have a name.
About David Rakowski
David Rakowski grew up in St.Albans, Vermont and studied at New England Conservatory, Princeton, and Tanglewood, where his teachers were Robert Ceely, John Heiss, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, and Luciano Berio. He has received a large number of awards and fellowships, including the Elise L. Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Rome Prize, and he has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music (for pieces commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the US Marine Band). His music has been commissioned, recorded, and performed widely and is published by C.F. Peters. He is the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition at Brandeis University, having also taught at New England Conservatory, Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford. In 2016, he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.