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Echo and Narcissus (1990)

It is common for visual artists to create a series of related works. In music, it is far less common, especially since Debussy. Echo and Narcissus (1990) for piano and amplified string quartet, is an expansion and re-thinking of Narcissus (1981) for solo piano. It was Marie-Josée Chartier who first put them together as companion pieces in her striking and brilliant choreography, study for a crouching figure/étude pour silhouette accroupie (1995). In both pieces of music, the piano part does not employ the central 3 octaves of the keyboard, playing chords of great sweetness exclusively in the extreme registers of the instrument, where the piano timbre can be compared to hitting a drum and breaking glass. The string quartet plays the same chords condensed into the middle register forbidden to the piano.

The premiere of a shorter version of Echo and Narcissus was by Yvar Mikhashoff, piano, and the Arditti String Quartet in Darmstadt, Germany, for which I received the 1990 Kranichsteiner Prize. I revised and expanded the piece for John Snijders and the Ives Ensemble, who performed it at the 1991 Confrontaties Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The expansion of the piece was commissioned by the Rotterdam Arts Council.

- Rodney Sharman