Fornax Chemica

Instrumentation Piano solo

Timing 10’30”

Composed 2008

Commissioned by Music TORONTO for Markus Groh

World Premiere April 7, 2009, Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto, Ontario. Markus Groh, piano

Programme Notes

A chemical furnace (Latin fornax chemica) was a small heater formerly used to heat chemical experiments. The idea of chemical transformation through heat and fire inspired this work for solo piano, which explores and combines the constituent elements of the piano sound. The piano has a wide range of sound possibilities, from a single note (with or without the pedal, which create different timbres) to a mass of up to 88 pitches (which requires the pedal, of course). The upper register can sparkle ephemerally, while the lower register can ring thunderously, and under the hands of a skilled performer, the piano is capable of many varied and subtly gradated colours. Cast in one movement, the music of Fornax Chemica bubbles and boils, crackles like fire, swirls like wind in the corners, rises like smoke in the air, and dissipates into the ether.

Fornax Chemica was commissioned by Music Toronto for pianist Markus Groh. It is dedicated to Markus, whose mastery of the keyboard ignited my imagination; and to the memory of my former teacher Donald Erb (1927-2008), whose music, principles and pursuit of excellence continue to inspire me.

PDF score excerpt

Fornax Chemica excerpt

Audio excerpt

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