I’m completing my notation score of Peggy Baker’s exquisite piece Unfold. I was lucky enough to be part of the filming process for The Choreographer’s Trust in 2009, and as I’m now working in Montreal for Compagnie Marie Chouinard, The Choreographer’s Trust package makes this final notation process much easier.
I was at Sainte-Geneviève with Marie Chouinard a few weeks ago where her dancers were performing Les 24 Prėludes de Chopin. I was struck by something Marie said during her pre-talk with the audience. Normally Preludes are a precursor for something, like Bach’s Preludes and Fugues. But Chopin’s are a series of Preludes alone. They stand on their own, complete vignettes that are not introducing anything — aside from the next piano piece in the series.
I realized that I had never thought of Peggy Baker’s Unfold in this context, which is set to Scriabin’s 24 Preludes, Op. 11, but that the structure is identical. 24 Preludes that are independent pieces. Some further research revealed that Scriabin had in fact modeled his composition after Chopin’s, following the same harmonic structure.
But what really struck me about Scriabin’s Preludes was that they were written in different cities over 8 years, and not in chronological order. They were numbered by key signature. No. 6 was written in Kiev in 1889, but No. 1 in 1896 in Paris. It made me think of a diary, or perhaps an autobiography that is then edited and restructured when perspective is gained on the whole life.