Poetry at the Piano: Original Compositions Inspired by Favorite Poems, Books 1-3.
Many composers have been inspired by the images and moods poets create in verse. Martha Sherrill Kelsey has published three sets of compositions, inspired by the works of more than 15 famous poets. Because of the sophistication of the poetry, as well as the craftsmanship of the music, I can use these pieces as creative supplements in my work with my youngest students, as well as my adult students.
Book 1 includes, "My Shadow," by Robert Louis Stevenson. Whatever the right hand plays, the left hand "shadows" an octave lower. The phrase, "I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me" has a smooth quality, which is presented in a lyrical legato. When the words change to, "And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed." Kelsey recreates the image in staccato.
Book 2 begins with the poem, "Cats," by John Bannister Tabb. The left hand plays an ostinato that sounds like a clawing cat while the right hand spells an eerie melody that, "fought like demons in the night beneath a shrunken moon." In "The Butterfly," by Hilda Conkling, Kelsey uses the whole tone scale, which creates "edges of gold, before the Sandman puts me to sleep and evening murmurs by."
Book 3 has selected poems printed above the music. Kelsey explores mood from the sweetness of William Cullen Bryant's poem, "To the Fringed Gentian," to the expressive changing meter of Arakida Moritake's haiku, "Fallen Flowers." I was most excited by the piece "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carrol. My hard to please adolescent daughter commented that the piece and the poem were "cool." Throughout all the books, the poems become the hook for students to listen more closely to the mood and images created by Kelsey. Reviewed by Ellen Johansen, East Hampton, New York.
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|Publication:||American Music Teacher|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2005|
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