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The World All Around
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The World All Around for prepared piano, Eb clarinet, and harp is a double tribute to children's author Maurice Sendak and composer John Cage. It is most apparently a late contribution to the Cage centennial celebration: the piano preparations from Cage's Sonatas and Interludes have been used in a musical language closer to the later style of Cage than to the earlier style in which they were born. The piece is equally a tribute to Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, the text of which contains the name of commissioning San Francisco ensemble, Wild Rumpus, as in, "And now, let the wild rumpus begin!"
The specific inspiration from Sendak's work here is far from a wild rumpus: the title, The World all Around, refers to the transformation of the protagonist's room into a jungle, and then again back into a room, that frames the main character's adventure: "and the walls became the world all around." The return journey from the land of the wild things, in which the world all around becomes walls again, lasts, in the text, "over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day." The composition renders this journey as a gradual transition from the "wild" timbres of the prepared piano - which always reminded me of a kind of whimsical, mock-exotic locale full of fearsome-looking but benign creatures - to the unprepared sound of the concert piano.
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