Daniel Felsenfeld

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.

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Comments [11]

Carl S. from Bloomington, IL

Love the orchestration -- great sense of line -- and even some humor too -- good stuff!

Jul. 14 2010 05:16 PM
jon deak from NYC

Danny has the abundant ability to express his musical thoughts in large scale. He'd be a natural to represent an ensemble as fine as Orpheus. I can't wait to hear what he'd produce for this occasion!

Jul. 13 2010 04:39 AM
Paola Prestini from SF

Danny's music is unique: funny, emotional, skilled, and his orchestration wows. Original, fantastic music. Go Danny, go!

Jul. 06 2010 01:07 PM
Emily Brown from Maine

This elegant, colorful piece certainly connects me to those trying times of lying awake and hoping for sleep to come - with shifting body, shifting mood, waiting and thinking. Beautiful. Thank you!

Jul. 06 2010 09:15 AM
C.Michael Gangemi

There is a moment of purest despair which creeps over you when you have lain there all night long. Frustration has come and gone hours ago and been replaced by hopelessness and then it happens. You hear the early morning birds chirping, happily celebrating the coming of the sun. I think Mr. Felsenfelds piece does an excellent job of evoking quite precisely the almost giddy feeling of resignation which comes over you at that moment.

Jul. 06 2010 03:25 AM
Wendy Richman from Ithaca, NY

Danny is a fabulous composer who writes with heart and with intellect, and who is true to himself as a musician and a person in his writing. In addition, he is a genuine, brilliant, kind person who inspires musicians and audiences to listen to him and to his work. We need more composers who are so naturally gifted at communicating.

Jul. 05 2010 11:46 PM
Boulezbian from Manhattan

I once attempted to go and hear a concert of this piece, but the blasted tabloid, Time Out New York, incorrectly listed the performance as taking place at 4am. I'm not sure that Orpheus should commission a composer who doesn't have the time of day! Har har.

Jul. 05 2010 11:34 PM
Janet Grillo

Danny is a brilliant talent. His work is invariably original, dramatic and beautiful.

Jul. 05 2010 10:22 PM
Cornelius Dufallo from NYC

Great orchestration! So well crafted, and compelling... this is a very effective piece.

Jul. 03 2010 10:32 PM
Jeffrey Zeigler

Danny is a brilliant composer and a master orchestrator. His music is dramatically gripping and has vitality and color. Beautiful.

Jun. 30 2010 12:25 AM
Armando Bayolo from Washington, D.C.

I've had the pleasure to work with Danny and bring a new piece of his into the world (the cantata "I Had Never Seen Snow Before"). Danny's music is filled with breathtaking beauty and is, frankly, a pleasure to perform as well as listen to.

Jun. 21 2010 08:55 PM

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