V. Poi5on Ivy
This work is a product of my ongoing efforts in developing my own performance practice for solo piano – the tactile characteristics that define my pianistic language. In each of these movements, various natural gestures of mine, all born out of the natural motor executions of my fingers as defined by my hands’ anatomical structure and technical skills, were the focuses of examination and development. This approach reflected a specific principle: that the strength of a piano composition rests on how well it fits in the pianist’s hands while maintaining the expression of the composer’s voice. Therefore, how the pianistic gestures feel as tactile ideas must also fit with how they sound. This has been the foundation of many pianistic composers of the past that led them to define their own performance practice: Scarlatti, Chopin, Ravel, Ligeti, etc.
The inspirations for this set of etudes were the supervillains of comic book culture that I grew up reading about and watching on television and film. My general method:
– Select six supervillains from comic book culture.
– With my wife’s help (Tracy Eng, a socio-psychologist), research the psychological profiles of each villain. Being that most of them are placed in an asylum rather than a prison, that suggests they each have distinguishing disorders/conditions manifested in criminal form (eg. R1ddler – OCD, narcissism, ASD).
– Provide these profiles to dancer-choreographers and discuss what their physical and gestural languages would be.
– Discuss with pianists how each villain’s physical language can be recreated in pianistic form – hence “etudes”: musical compositions designed to develop particular techniques on the given instrument.
My heartfelt thanks to the following people who contributed their thoughts, suggestions, and expertise during the creation of this work: Tracy Eng, Yukichi Hattori (choreographer), Kimberly Cooper (choreographer), Odette Heyn (choreographer), Vicky Chow (pianist), Jenny Lin (pianist), Jamie Parker (pianist), and Phil Roberts (pianist).
The work has been recorded by Vicky Chow and is featured on the album “Sandman’s Castle: The Solo and Duo works of Vincent Ho” distributed by Navona Records.