Old and Lost Rivers
for solo piano(1986)
|Commission||Dedicated to Stephen M. Aechternacht|
|Premiere||March, 1987; Carnegie Recital Hall, New York; Ursula Oppens, piano|
Driving east from Houston along Interstate 10, you will come to a high bridge which crosses many winding bayous. These bayous were left behind by the great wanderings over time of the Trinity River across the land. When it rains the bayous fill with water and begin to flow. At other times -- when it is dry -- they evaporate and turn green in the sun. The two main bayous are called Old River and Lost River. Where they converge, a sign on the side of the highway reads: Old and Lost Rivers.
In 1986 the state of Texas was engaged in a celebration of its sesquicentennary. This event was to be marked by the commissioning of a series of concert openers for the Houston Symphony, of which I had just been appointed Composer in Residence. Thought not a traditional Fanfare, Old and Lost Rivers took its place in what came to be known as the Fanfare Project alongside twenty other compositions from composers from all over the US and the world including Elliott Carter, John Adams, Poul Ruders and Marius Constant.
I composed Old and Lost Rivers in the spring of 1986 in Houston as a tribute to my new home. Later that year, I made a piano version of the piece for Ursula Oppens and presented it to her as a birthday present.
Christoph Eschenbach has been a great champion of Old and Lost Rivers; performing and recording the piano version (for Virgin Classics) and the orchestral version with among others, The Chicago Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The San Francisco Symphony, The Pittsburgh Symphony, and The Zurich Tonhalle."
Old and Lost Rivers has been recorded several times; by the Houston Symphony, with Christoph Eschenbach as conductor, and in the solo version, with Christoph Eschenbach as pianist, on the Virgin Classics label; by the London Symphony Orchestra, with John Williams as conductor, on the Sony Classical label; and in the version for solo piano, performed by Ursula Oppens, on the Music and Arts label, and performed by David Troy Francis, on the Barbarian Records.
– Tobias Picker