Next month my friend from our conservatory days --and now a reputable flutist living in Cordoba-- Wendela van Swol will give the Spanish premiere of my flute and piano Rescuing Ariadne, accompanied by pianist Emilio Jose Garcia. One of their concerts will be during the Spanish Flute Convention in Madrid where it will be a concentration of flutists around the world with 3 full days of concerts, discussions and masterclasses. And they made me realize that with several performances done in the past, I haven't written any program notes on the piece, so this entry is dedicated to them.
Rescuing Ariadne was inspired by a painting by Titian at the National Gallery of London. I don't know why that particular painting was particularly inspiring to me, among the other fascinating paintings hanging there. Its luscious colours certainly triggered some of the harmonic progressions in my piece, and I also had in mind the story behind it while composing. Therefore the piece was divided into 3 continuous sections :
1. depicting both anger and sadness of Ariadne being alone in the island of Naxos. There are many short flute cadenzas here.
2. the arrival of Bacchus. As one can expect when a handsome god meets a beautiful goddess, they immediately fall in love, and thanks to this process we get the story of him rescuing her out of the island. I especially like the beginning of the "love tune" where the piano repeats a figure twice and then the flute answers with the same figure : it's so kitch! As if one asked "Do you love me? Do you love me?" and the other answered : "Yeah I do love you". If you have this dialogue in mind, you'll get the exact rubato that's needed.
3. obviously their adventure of escaping from Naxos. I use my favorite meter of 10/16 as the ending.
I don't think one should bear this story in mind while listening to the music, since I hope that the music can speak for itself without any programmatic background, and I do realize that both Titian's painting and the story are too big for my 5-minute little piece. Some people have asked me questions why I didn't simply put Titian's title for my piece, hence "Bacchus and Ariadne", and my answer is that 1. Albert Roussel has done justice to the painting by writing his Third Symphony (yes, a whole symphony and not a 5+ minute piece) with that title. 2. I did concentrate on the figure of Ariadne, and not on Bacchus while writing my piece.
And somehow I had (and still have) the strange feeling that this piece would be the first movement of a kind of suite for flute and piano. It just feels that way. There are materials in the piece that can still be exploited to make it a complete piece of, say, 3 movements. But I haven't got the time, opportunity and inspiration to write another one (my "Prelude and Interlude" from my opera IBU, also for flute and piano, has nothing to do with this). Especially now, when I am extremely late in finishing my third opera. Rehearsals starting in mid-April and .. ehm .. nobody involved in the opera has received any note from me (sssh, don't tell!). Anybody got Mozart's phone number??