by Bruce Stark
Bruce Stark's music was performed to wonderful effect again in tonight's program. His 5 short pieces further explored how jazz stylings and American folk music influences can be used without merely evoking the achievements of the '50's. The explosive 5th prelude was fascinating in how it simultaneously and without feelings of pastiche evoked both Bartok and Gershwin.
— Jeff Harrington, Sequenza21
Various pianists performing selections from Five Preludes:
Five Preludes (2003) was composed for pianist Yuko Mifune, who premiered it in Tokyo the same year. The five pieces average no more than one and a half minutes each, and while conceived as a collection can be played separately or in partial combinations. I composed them with the intent of creating succinct, distinct worlds in each piece.
Prelude No. 1, mostly in 7/8 meter, is atmospheric, perhaps yearning or haunting depending on the performer. Though not in a common time signature, the music flows smoothly and doesn't call attention to its meter, which I hope enhances its capacity to evoke. Prelude No. 2 is the shortest piece in the group, possessing the character of a brief interlude with its shadowed, chordal statement. Prelude No. 3 is inspired by the rhythmically precise yet resonant textures found in music such as Celtic harp, dulcimer and Gamelan ensembles. A clear, rapid demarkation of time combined with lyrical beauty has a mesmerizing quality well-suited to the piano. Prelude No. 4 is the most songful of the group; I hope it conveys a warmth and sincerity that I associate with true friendship, and with vast, expansive beauty such as that of mountains and broad, peaceful skies. Prelude No. 5 is the most technically demanding and aggressive music of the collection, drawing from rhythms and harmonies of jazz, while also possessing textures more characteristic of classical music.
— Bruce Stark
Five Preludes has been recorded by several pianists including Seann Alderking (Vivid, Red Kite Records), Chika Nagisa (Muse, Centaur Records), and Matthew McCright (Second Childhood).