Among the recent commissions of composer Daniel Felsenfeld are The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, a musical resetting of David Bowie’s lyrics for the Real Quiet trio and singer Corey Dargel; The Curse of Sophistication, a piano concerto for Andrew Russo to be premiered by the Metropolis Ensemble; The Cohen Variations for pianist Simone Dinnerstein; Revolutions of Ruin, an oratorio for the Great Noise Ensemble performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in May, 2009; You. Have. No. Idea., a string quartet for ETHEL; From Sleepless Nights, a piece for cellist-singer written for Jody Redhage; All Work and No Play, a piccolo piece for Stephanie Mortimore, performed at Carnegie Hall in 2007; and a song cycle for mezzo-soprano Betany Cofflane. He composed Insomnia Redux; 4am for the Da Capo Chamber Players for their Merkin Hall concert in June, 2010.
Notes from the Composer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Insomnia Redux; 4am
Performed by the New England Conservatory Symphony; conducted by John Page.
I can’t sleep. I’ve tried just about everything for years and it still eludes me. So, in 2003, when pianist Jenny Lin asked me to make her a piece, I decided to try to make music about my nocturnal life, not so much for therapeutic purposes (I’ve never felt composing was good for that) but rather to outline the feeling of a single moment of sleeplessness—that in-vain few seconds in the night when you beg to drift off but a seemingly unstoppable force prevents it. In a way, the piece is about that moment, but it is more an emotional response to it, the splaying out of this instant of sheer terror, anxiety, exasperation, exhaustion and resignation. When I wrote the piece, I knew the piano version was a stepping-stone to larger, fuller, more colorful versions for full orchestra, a safe place to rehearse what were, for me, some wilder ideas. The ecstatic virtuosity of the piano piece gave way to a virtuosity of color.
In 2008, when the New England Conservatory awarded me a Distinguished Alumni Award, the fantastic student orchestra there performed this iteration of Insomnia Redux; 4am in a school concert.