James Dillon – Charm

by 5:4

Today’s Advent Calendar door contains a miniature by James Dillon. Similar to Dragonfly, explored during this year’s Lent Series, Charm (2008) is another short piano work composed quickly for a friend. The title is interpretable in a variety of ways (in a pre-concert talk, Dillon even mentioned the charm quark elemental particle as a reference), though the nature of the material certainly lends itself to the more obvious meanings of the word.

Its structure falls into three brief sections, the first of which presents a kind of fixated (charmed) music, where short, similar phrases are enunciated over an extended low C pedal. They sound liquid, like intense splashes of high register colour, some droplets of which gracefully descend.

The short central section shifts towards a more elaborate, decorative (charming) music, lighter in touch and moving rapidly with real freedom where previously it was rooted. The final section returns to the character of the first, slowing around more chordal material, rooted over deep chords, before concluding in a total state of beguilement (charm), quietly and absent-mindedly repeating the same gesture again and again, utterly transfixed.

Originally premièred at HCMF 2009, this performance of Charm was given by Ed Cohen at a Composer Portrait concert during the 2010 Proms festival.

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