Cascade was written in response to a request for a new work for two pianos from the extraordinary Pridonoff Duo. As I began to think about the work the idea of piano resonance started to capture my imagination. I began to think about this awesome ‘glow’ of sound that occurs after the keys are struck and how these waves of sound – lustrous, velvety pools of resonance – hang in the air. I began to think of these sounds as clouds or water and the various forms these take in the natural world. This, in turn, led me to reflect on the endlessly varied forms of water or cloud that inspired the three movement titles: drift echo, waves and torrent.
Into this creative amalgam of ideas also was the type of work the Pridonoffs and I had discussed: a multimovement work of around 20 minutes. I thought of this in a traditional fast–slow–fast arrangement of movements since I wanted to honor their amazing technical prowess in the outer movements and have these surround a central, expressive, somewhat darker middle movement.
As I began to think about and increasingly as I set to work on the piece, the idea took hold that perhaps this two piano piece – extravagant and bold, colorful and expressive, playful and lyrical in turns – would also orchestrate into a wonderful and dazzling vehicle for large orchestra. So, in the fall of 2010, just months after completing work on the two piano version I set about the task of orchestrating the work into its current guise as cascade – concerto for orchestra.
The title and order of the movements is unchanged from the original version and I hope captures the energy, expressive intimacy and muscular drama that the Pridonoff Duo so powerfully projected in the two piano version.