Signature is my debut album in collaboration with Dr. Petra Matějová. The album is a collection of neobaroque pieces, consisting mostly of preludes & fugues to showcase the craft of counterpoint and form.
How the Project Started
In the fall semester of 2015, I decided to study abroad with the New York University Czech Republic program. While there I took multiple music courses; one of them being private piano lessons under Dr. Matějová. While studying with her, I learned that she specialized in historical performances of baroque and classical music and we engaged in fruitful dialogue about the interpretation of J.S. Bach's music. Later that semester, I presented a Prelude & Fugue to Dr. Matějová who graciously offered to perform it in a gala concert and has since then taken an interest in performing and recording my music. Looking to the future, we agreed to collaborate to produce an album of original pieces that were stylized to Dr. Matějová's specialties. To read more about Dr. Matějová, click here.
Working with Dr. Matějová
Working with a musician of Petra Matějová's caliber is truly a rare opportunity for any composer. Not only is she gifted with wicked technical facilities, she is also blessed with great musical depth and wit. Her extensive knowledge of baroque and classical performance has given her a profoundly deep sense of the craft and mechanics of composition. As a composer, there is very little I must do in terms of musical instruction because she understands the inherent expressive qualities of harmony and contour. In some instances, her mastery of music theory has led to her making significant improvements in the structure of the composition itself, not just its execution.
For instance, in the album Dr. Matějová proposed transposing the codetta of the Prelude & Fugue in b Flat Minor down a perfect fourth. This is a significant deviation from normal practice since it sets the prelude up to end in the dominant, not the tonic. This ending leads to the tonic affirmation at the outset of the fugue, making the codetta of the prelude function somewhat like a grand anacrusis into the next movement. In addition, it establishes a harsh and quite shocking dissonance at its outset because the progression changes from a suspended tonic landing to a suspended deceptive cadence.
Dr. Matějová's proposition here is not only daring and witty (perhaps almost humorous), but vitally important to the process of stylized music. She understands that to create an original voice, composers must pull at the inner mechanics and traditions of composition. This requires a high degree of experience and sensitivity to music. Combined with her extensive knowledge of theory and sharp technical skills, Dr. Matějová played a vital part in not only recording my music but also shaping my musical identity.