Portrait of Peter Paul Koprowski thumbtack

Vignettes for Piano Quintet

Duration: 30 minutes

Written: 1987

Premiered: January 29, 1988

Vaghy String Quartet

Piano: Peter Paul Koprowski

Movements:

  1. A Walk in the Woods
  2. Finches and Firtrees
  3. Turtles and Treetoads
  4. Stream in Solitude
  5. Porcupines and Pinecones
  6. Chipmunk(y)s and Chestnuts
  7. Lingering by the Lake

Background:

"Look at this flower!", said Rachel, gently pointing her little finger to the side of the road. I did not see anything. Then, as I bent down on one knee beside her, I saw the world from three feet above the ground level. I saw the flower. I saw the pebbles. I saw a wealth of other things.
A new world, as viewed through the eyes of my three-year-old daughter opened up before me; in that one moment I learned more than I had ever thought possible. My neck hurt when I looked up to the height where my eyes would be, had I been standing and looking down at Rachel.

I remembered her frequent words -"I love you, Daddy!"- and asked myself how this touching whisper was possible without a shoulder-muscle spasm. The tree-tops seemed so high above, and the sky so far off in "never-never land." I did not want this precious moment to escape me. I wished Rachel to remember it also. I decided to record this and many similar daily walks through music and dedicate the composition to her.

The seven miniatures reflect the various moods and situations encountered, and the "stop and go" motion in movements 1,3 and 7 alludes to the rhythm of walking with someone whose strides fall in no pattern of your own. A motion I never fought, but from which I learned about the realities of life that most of us share, at one time or another.

Rachel sat through the premiere performance at the age of four, listening attentively while battling a winter cold. She coughed appropriately in the pianissimo ending, during the rests surrounding the last chord. I cherish having that performance on tape.

The work, approximately 30 minutes in duration, was commissioned by the Vaghy String Quartet with assistance from the Ontario Arts Council. It was premiered by them with the composer at the piano on January 29, 1988.