Desert Story - CL/BSN/PN
Composer: Shapiro, Alex
Publisher: Alex Shapiro
for clarinet, bassoon, and piano
by Alex Shapiro (b. 1962) - American composer
Desert Story is some of the most programmatic music I've composed, to the point where even the score itself contains maniacal little outbursts describing the visions that swept through my mind as the music wrote itself. The scene: the desert's arid stillness and the weight of the morning's expanding heat. A sudden rainstorm overtakes the landscape, forming instant pools of water over the cracked earth. The storm passes as quickly as it arrived, and as the birds and reptiles emerge to greet the fleeting moisture, the music ends as flowers strain upward against the bluest sky for those few passionate moments of their fullest bloom. Ahhh.
Well, none of the above was floating around in my head as began the first measures; my initial working title had something to do with the ocean and being near it. But just after I started the piece, I took a road trip from my Malibu home to Tucson, Arizona. The drive was meditative, and best of all, the Sonora desert was in the full bloom of a May preceded by heavy rainfall. Everywhere I turned there were brilliant flowers bursting from inhospitable looking cactuses and scrub. It was truly beautiful. All the stunning drives I've taken through deserts came to my senses at once, from a trip across the Sinai on a desolate road, to a trek across Mongolia's Gobi on no road at all. I also thought a lot about the extraordinary ten days I spent alone one July in the Mojave's Death Valley, gleefully immersing myself like a madwoman in its intense, 125 degree heat. I was rewarded with an equally intense and welcome inner clarity.