Three American Canvases (Score & Parts)-OB/CL/BSN
Composer: Perttu, Daniel
for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon
by Daniel Perttu- American composer
Written for the PEN Trio. This music is inspired by three works of American art that capture the essence of three different eras in American history. Images of the pieces may be seen at www.danielperttu.com/canvases. The first piece, created by Winthrop Chandler who is regarded by many as the first american landscape painter, is entitled Landscape Overmantel (1767-1769). It represents landscape art during the era leading up to the Revolutionary War. To represent this work and era, I based the first movement of this composition on the folk song, "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier", which was sung at the time.
The second movement of the composition is based on an artwork from the Romantic Era. Albert Bierstadt is regarded as on of the finest American landscape artists from this era, and his art appeals to me personally on a very deep level, so I chose his Emigrants Crossing the Plains (1867). This work is also reflective of this era in American history which was characterized in significant part by westward expansion.
The final era of American history whose spirit I attempted to capture in music is the recent past, which we might characterize as the post-modern era in art or the post-industrial era in history. The last piece of art was created by my aunt, Dinana Cutrone, and is entitled Tide Pool (2011). At first, the title suggest that this work is simply conveying a natural phenomena at a beach. However, the piece itself is composed of metal washers, nuts, and gears suspended in clear acrylic with blue paint in it. The use of these materials and methods of artistic creation are characteristic of the modern and post-modern eras. The metal washers, nuts, and gears cannot be perceived without at least some connotation of industrialization, but the way in which they are creatively arranged in two-dimensional space, along with their obvious third-dimensional depth, as if to represent sea froth and bubbles, as well as the rich, azure color palette, all contribute to the natural and organic quality of the piece. This juxtaposition of the materials of industry against the natural and organic, and even their synthesis, is a fundamental aspect of our recent history in American, and it will continue to be an issue, whether the contrast of these features will result in tension or destruction, or whether they can be amalgamated more harmoniously.