Transparent things

Solo piano, 1996.

(Philip Mead, piano)

Transparent things, through which the past shines!
Man-made objects, or natural ones, inert in themselves but much used by careless life (you are thinking, and quite rightly so, of a hillside stone over which a multitude of small animals have scurried in the course of incalculable seasons) are particularly difficult to keep in surface focus: novices fall through the surface, humming happily to themselves, and are soon reveling with childish abandon in the story of this stone, of that heath
Vladimir Nabokov

The pieces can be performed as a set (keeping the order below) or individually/in pairs, as the pianist prefers.

  • Cold Light, 6.a.m.
  • Still, Clear (for VRM)
  • Frozen Edge
  • Long Causeway

Commissioned for Stephen Gutman, with funds provided by a Holst Award.

Duration approx. 16 minutes (whole set).

The four pieces which make up Transparent things each explore notions of transparency: the idea of looking through a surface in search of something less tangible, and more resonant. They were inspired by both the above quotation and my long walks on and around Stanage Edge, in the Peak District, Derbyshire (UK). Although the individual pieces came from memories of specific times and places, they are not overtly programmatic. Perhaps I was seeking a musical analogy for that growing clarity of mind than can arise during a solitary walk, when there is time to reflect, to remember and to get thoughts and dreams into focus.

This piece is recorded by Philip Mead on CD (Transparent things)