Ecstasis: Prelude and Variations for Piano

Lawrence Kramer

About this work:
"Ecstasis," the Greek word from which the English "ecstasy" derives, literally means to be moved out of place. It refers to a passage beyond the given, a movement outside the place of one's known or familiar self. In his Being and Time, Martin Heidegger proposes that the most "authentic" form of ecstasis is a rapture, a being carried away, that we do not simply yield to but actively resolve on. We step away from stasis onto a plane of continuous dynamism. We become ourselves by leaving ourselves behind, yet without forgetting that who (and what) we become is a reply we make to all we have been before. The two parts of "Ecstasis: Prelude and Variations for Piano" refer respectively to the allure of stasis and the allure of ec-stasis. The Prelude is both static and cyclical; its slow revolutions present a single extended melody without alteration but from different points of view. The Variations seek an "ecstatic" dynamism that proliferates at many levels. The variations take flight from two musical ideas, a theme and a chord progression stated at the outset, but it is not just these ideas that are varied; so are the expressive episodes formed from the variation process and so are the larger sections formed from the episodes in turn. The work as as a whole reaches its "ecstatic"conclusion when the highest-order variation has happend three times, a process clearly marked by reprises of the initial theme and chord progression. This formal pattern, however, is not the point of the music but merely the medium in which the risks, rewards, forces, and feelings of ecstasis can best proliferate. The Prelude is about five and a half minutes long, the Variations a little over fourteen.
Year composed: 2007
Duration: 19:00:60
Ensemble type: Keyboard:Piano

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