by Bruce Stark
solo piano, 9 minutes
review by Jeff Harrington, November 2006, NYC
(on-line contemporary classical music magazine)
In 2006 British pianist Seann Alderking included Winged in his release from Red Kite Records entitled Vivid, available on-line through Red Kite Records. The work was given its U.S. premiere by pianist Tatjana Rankovich as part of the Keys To The Future contemporary piano music festival in New York City in 2006.
A fantasy-like recital piece for professionals and advanced students in which shimmering virtuosic passages alternate with soft, lyrical sections, Winged was composed in 1995 for pianist Yumiko Meguri, who recorded it on her CD Meguri Plays Stark the same year (Live Notes: WWCC-7277). It has since been performed by several Japanese pianists including Yuko Mifune who recorded it in 2002 as the title cut of her CD Winged from King Records (KICC 392). Ms. Mifune's live performance of the work was broadcast on NHK television, and she has included the work in numerous recitals throughout Japan.
Whether a fantasy based on reality or a reality based on fantasy, the notion of angels has been a source of musical inspiration to me for years. Often the mere thought of other-worldly, high-energy beings in unseen dimensions brings forth a rush of ideas, as though they were eager to share their cosmic music if only I would turn them a listening ear. Winged is in one movement containing essentially two parts. The first and largest part represents a visitation by angels from invisible worlds, depicted in materials ranging from swirling figures to gentle melodic passages to ecstatic outpourings. After their disappearance, the last part (introduced by a low drone in the bass) represents a reminiscence from the human perspective on having witnessed these wondrous creatures. Here I quote the famous Christmas song Angels We Have Heard On High in fragments, with a slight reference to its "Gloria" section as the work closes. The text of the first verse of the original song is as follows:
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
- Bruce Stark