Stephen Situm: Nocturne
Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Solo Piano
2014: Stephen Situm
Recording Engineer: Armin Steiner
Digital Recordist: Larry Mah
Recording Studio: Skywalker Sound
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 10, 2015
This CD is a recounting of four dreams, by Stephen Situm, in four unique compositions for solo piano. Kevin Fitz-Gerald, pianist, makes the scored dreams come to life. Mr. Situm’s original text is provided for each dream, “Empire” (four movements), “Ghost Waltz”, “Passage”, and “Other World”, in the album insert. Brief excerpts of each include “Empire” (“The creature changes again, this time into a beautiful woman. She beckons me toward a shimmering pool…”), “Ghost Waltz” (“Starkly beautiful music softly begins emanating from within the structure. I peer through a window and see a glittering, ghost filled ballroom…”), “Passage” (“The ominous shadow gradually reveals itself as the entrance to a massive fortress…”), and “Other World” (“This stark place, seemingly devoid of life, might have been inhabited”). Henrik Tamm has gorgeously illustrated each dream text, as if for animated film, naturally, as Mr. Situm ghost writes music for movies. This album was recorded in California at Skywalker Sound Mr. Situm also has a wine vineyard and sells a California cabernet named for his “Ghost Waltz”, discussed below.
All Compositions by Stephen Situm.
Pianist: Kevin Fitz-Gerald.
#2 – Empire, Mvt. II – This dramatic second movement, of Mr. Situm’s four-movement “Empire”, as he, in his dream, rushes across “trampled earth and lingering dust”, escaping into a fortress ahead of “silhouettes of skeletons”, is filled with poignant, melodic yearning. Its echoing, balletic theme is enchanting, ahead of the storm-filled, chordal Sturm und Drang of the following two movements.
#5 – Ghost Waltz – Mr. Situm’s text of this second dream is evocative of Ravel’s symphonic poem, La Valse, although the Situm score is much more melancholy. In this dream, Mr. Situm dances with “a particularly alluring apparition” in an abandoned mansion. For the listener, the music swirls and shimmers, as if they are skating. Mr. Fitz-Gerald has mastered the aura inherent in this fantasy romance that ends with eerie resolution and surrealism.
#6 – Passage – This dream involves a boy abandoned on a precipice, by two older brothers, who’ve been captured by invaders along their valley’s trade route. The music is lyrical and longing, filmatic and frenzied. The pianist builds drama and strength in the fluidity of the music’s rhythm. This track, like the others, could serve as a ballet or modern dance score, with its theatrical musicality and harmony.
#7 – Other World – In this dream, Mr. Situm travels from an alien landscape, aboard a transport craft, and rises above the clouds. There’s a starry aspect to the glistening theme, with Mr. Fitz-Gerald expanding the echoing refrains with heavy chords and piano pedal. Atonal phrases add edge to the charged, imploding melody, before it ends in quiet, ethereal mystery.