Orchestration

for solo piano (or version for two pianos)

Duration

16 minutes

Commissioned by/Premiere

The Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music for Vicky Chow. Additional commissioning support was provided by Rose and Michael Emanuele and the Project Fellows Fund of the American Academy in Rome. The work was premiered by Vicky Chow on March 30, 2016 at the American Academy in Rome.

The two piano arrangement was written for HOCKET in 2020. Premiere of the Two Piano Version: April 17, 2020, UC Santa Barbara, California

Score

Purchase from Project Schott New York.
Purchase the two piano version from Project Schott New York.

Listen

Visuals that inspired the work (by Alexander Robinson):

Note

The Arching Path was inspired by a visit to the Ponte Sul Basento (Bridge over the Basento River), a bridge in the southern Italian city of Potenza. It is often called the Ponte Musmeci, named after its designer, the engineer Sergio Musmeci. While visiting Potenza, I was struck by this beautiful and hulking modernist mass—with its curving lines and concrete structure—that stood out from so much older, historical, and ornamented architecture in Italy.

The first movement, ‘Musmeci’s Concerte’, traces my own experience of walking through the substructure of the bridge, which features wavelike shapes that undulate slowly downward and outward. In the music, the pianist very slowly expands the range of the music throughout the entire movement in a series of wavelike patterns. The pianist is asked to play many different rhythms on top of one another, imaging how different speeds can represent different curves on the bridge. Finally, the musical material itself—sharp, icy, repeated notes—draw inspiration from the material of concrete; something not often thought of as beautiful, yet an infinitely malleable material.

The second movement, ‘Sul Basento’, is aquatic, imaging a view from the river below. Musically, it compresses the repeated notes of the first movement into a flowing and quiet tremolo. Just like skipping stones on water, the music imagines a single note from the piano bouncing across the sonic surface—slowing flowing from an attack into an almost sustained sound. The form of the music is aqueous too—one idea gradually flows into another until finally it grows into a grand musical depiction of a view of the entire bridge from below.

The final movement, ‘A Going Concern’, imagines these elements together in a kind of epilogue, with the bridge (the repeated notes), the water (a flowing chorale), and a sharp repeated dissonant chord weaving together. At the end, both the bridge and the water are left in the distance.

The Arching Path was inspired by and dedicated to my dear friend Vicky Chow and was commissioned by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. Additional commissioning support was provided by Rose and Michael Emanuele. The premiere of the work was supported by the Project Fellows Fund of the American Academy in Rome.

Press

Cerrone’s canny and beautiful triptych ‘The Arching Path’ proved the most ambitious of the new works…

Joshua Kosman, SF Gate

The program’s heart was Christopher Cerrone’s The Arching Path. Inspired by the image of a bridge, the piece opens with difficult polyrhythms that span a good portion of the piano’s range, coupled with intricate figurations — high technical stakes, which, in Andres’s performance, paid off. He didn’t shy away from playing loudly, yet the sheer sturdiness of his rhythmic patterns imbued the movement with a meditative quality. In the dramatic and lyrical second and third movements, where Cerrone (a Rome Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist) juxtaposes murmuring tremolos and crashing dissonances, Andres delicately balanced the unyielding and expressive.

Rebecca Wishnia, SF Classical Voice