”Viola in My Life II” (1970)
For Viola, Flute, Clarinet, Percussion, Celesta, Violin, and Cello
Performed by Karen Phillips, Paula Robison, Arthur Bloom, Raymond DesRoches, David Tudor, Anahid Ajemian, and Seymour Barab
Another version is available on this disc compact disc featuring the Ensemble Recherche
”Rothko Chapel: I” (1971)
For Viola, Percussion, Celesta, Soprano, Alto, and Chorus
Performed by William Winant, Deborah Dietrich, Karen Rosenak, and David Abel
Available on this compact disc featuring the complete “Rothko Chapel”
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My Dearest Piano,
You were my original love. When young, I promised to always love you first and foremost. Because of that, it pains me greatly to tell you I have a confession to make – I have fallen in love with another. Although I do promise that I will never stop loving you or fully lose my dedication to you, I cannot deny the sensual power that draws me to this other as much as, if not at times, more strongly than I am drawn to you.
Her name is the Viola. While you have the ability to express with more dynamic force than an entire orchestra, she is brittle and easily overwhelmed. While you can produce notes of equal beauty within a tessitura unsurpassed by any other instrument, she can barely sing beyond three octaves. While countless composers and performers have stretched your virtuosic prowess, she remains steady and has injured most who have tried to surpass her limits. And, furthermore, while you are grand and bear a formidable presence, she is delicate and can seduce with only one note.
I cannot explain this passion that I feel for the Viola. I am sure that to you –since she seems the exact opposite of you in every way – that you cannot understand how, after declaring my undying dedication to you, I could fall for an object so unworthy. I have struggled many long hours and sleepless nights trying to answer this very question and despite this I fear I cannot offer you an answer that will assuage your hurt questioning longing anymore than I stop loving her.
Possibly – and I say this to be honest rather than hurtful – while everything you say is destined to only exist sound as a glorious resonating decay, Viola seems to speak brittlely and more profoundly from within the very center of this dying decay that I love so much in all sound and in you.
With great sympathy and affection,