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Vast Antique Cubes/Throbbing Still

Joan Tower
10 min

Vast Antique Cubes/Throbbing Still (2000) was commissioned by Franklin and Marshall College for the pianist John Browning who premiered both works at The Ann and Richard Barshinger Center for Musical Arts in Hensel Hall at Franklin & Marshall College on September 16, 2000.

They are from a suite of four movements for piano titled No Longer Very Clear taken from a poem of the same title by John Ashbery. The titles are from selected phrases inside the poem.

In Vast Antique Cubes, I wanted to create a sense of a very large space that moved quite slowly from low to high and higher still. Within this reaching upwards, are suggestions of Debussy and Chopin-two composers whom I played frequently as a pianist. By contrast, in the much more energetic and faster Throbbing Still, the music of Stravinsky and the Latin Inca rhythms that I grew up with in South America, continue to play a powerful role — to "throb still" in my music.

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