Polpis Dreaming (2005) for contrabassoon and piano is dedicated to Henry Skolnick.
The title refers to Polpis, a region of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts that borders Nantucket
Harbor with a variety of smaller inlets. This work is one of a variety of pieces connected to the
landscape of Nantucket. In the case of this piece, the extra-musical image was one of the
incredible depth of the ocean (perhaps parallel to the depth of the contrabassoon's sound) slowly
being "explored/achieved" through the means of inlets.
The work's basic material comes from the contrabassoon's opening gesture, which moves upward
from the bottom of the instrument. The pitch material and interval content that are transformed
throughout the work are presented in that motion.
The first section of the work is declamatory, with lyric impulses. The material of the work is
unfolded as the sounds of the piano's resonance, combined with the tone of the contrabassoon are
explored. A faster middle section occurs next in which the harmonic gestures and
transformations are always moving towards greater consonance. After the middle section, there
is a return to the mood of the opening, although the material of the middle section also appears in
IMPORTANT PERFORMANCE NOTE: Throughout the work, pedaling markings are
given for the pianist. These should always be observed. Sometimes the pedal remains depressed
for very large stretches of time.
A sonorous grand piano (with the top open) is required for the work to be most effective.