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4 1/2

Libby Larsen
10 min

4 ½: A Piano Suite is a set of five short pieces, four of which are for both hands, and one for left hand only. The pieces relate to each other through shared crystalized musical motives, which are transformed and developed. Each piece has its own character.

I’s character is dance-like, riffing on echoes of 1940’s popular dance music.

II, for left hand only, has repeated 16th-note pedal tones punctuated by a twenty-one note pitch-string in the outer voices.

Within III’s flowing character, the first three notes of Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer’s 1941 hit song, “Tangerine,” emerge and return as an important part of V.

IV, subtitled “In Memoriam” is an elegy for departed, beloved ones. A single phrase quoting a short fragment of the “Dies Irae” slowly unfolds in counterpoint with itself resolving/concluding with more of the familiar melody.

Finally, piece V is a rambunctious rhapsody on the shared musical motives from the previous four pieces.

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