Chiaroscuro

Until I heard Corigliano’s mind blowing Circus Maximus for massive wind band at Carnegie Hall last year, my favorite piece of his was this intimate set of three short movements for two pianos tuned a quarter tone apart from 1997, which I knew from a Vanguard recording by the Duo Turgeon who commissioned the work. Although microtonal embellishments are featured in a number of his other works, perhaps most noticeably in the otherworldly opening of his Pied Piper Fantasy, Chiaroscuro is his only all-out microtonal composition to date. And Corigliano’s music shows such sensitivity and command for the quartertonal idiom—no gimmicky half-sharp tremolos here—that I wish he’d consider venturing beyond 12-tone equal temperament in a larger scale work. But for now, it’s nice to have a second recording of this remarkable music, a harbinger that a microtonal composition might actually be headed toward becoming standard repertoire. (I can dream, can’t I?)

—FJO