Percussion quartet with large instrumentation to accompany three paintings by Pat Lipsky—large, diamond shaped grids of infinite shades of black. Premiered as part of a multimedia concert entitled Dark Love in 1999.

for percussion quartet (large instrumentation) / 32 min.
in three movements
I. Dark Love / II. History / III. In Memoriam C.G.

Performance Note

Dark Love was originally composed as part of a multimedia production of abstract art and percussion, itself entitled Dark Love. This work can be played in a regular concert setting, but makes an even bigger impact if experienced together with their inspiration, Pat Lipsky’s Black Paintings. Presenters may either rent slides of the paintings from the artist, or stage the performance with the paintings alongside the musicians, as in the original production. For more information about previewing the paintings, renting slides, or producing a full staging, please contact Allemar Music.

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Program Note

Pat Lipsky‘s Black Paintings are extraordinary to me because they open themselves to the viewer over time and convey such powerful emotion in purely abstract terms. In both ways they work like music, and from the first time I saw them, I began thinking of how they might sound. Percussion would clearly be the medium of choice. These paintings deal in color, rhythm, and form—the very qualities in which percussion excels. Melody and functional harmony are not in the Black Paintings. They are not representational; they do not illustrate situations or emotions. Instead they simply are; they mysteriously embody mood and emotion with great subtlety and complexity. Their music is both austere and intimate; formal and mercurial; monochrome and polychrome.

Each painting is both an imposing sensory experience and a deep psychological statement. They are large geometric works, eight feet tall in diamond form; heavy ridge lines describe deceptively curving grids; an indescribable array of shades of black fill the spaces and bleed off the edges. As a triptych, in the order in which Pat painted them, the three convey a powerful inner journey. The first movement (“I. Dark Love”) is scored almost completely for metals. The movement is obsessive, given to vertigo, finally overwhelmed by an astonishing, glowing patch of color. The second movement (“II. History”) is scored mainly for woods and skins, a warmer palette of sound. A deeper, more regular stratum pulses behind a ruffled surface. The third movement (“III. In Memoriam C.G.”) includes most of the instruments heard already with the addition of a steel drum. Here the grid is most regular, the colors most jewel-like, the effect like stained glass. In place of the obsessive few pitches of the opening movement are tall, colorful, ringing chords, seeking this painting’s calm, its profound reflection, its awe.

—Theodore Wiprud

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