Ceremony of Innocence

Ceremony of Innocence

Year: 1983

Heading: for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano

Movement Titles:
1. Reflection of Wet Knees
2. Patterns in Sand
3. This Is My Lo; Those Are Your Lilies
4. Yes, I said, They're Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!

First Performance:
30 July 1983
Tanglewood Music Center, Lenox, Massachusetts
Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center conducted by Gunther Schuller

flute, clarinet, violin, 'cello, piano

Duration: 23'

...it rang with an authenticity and seriousness of purpose... Detroit Free Press

Program Note:
Ceremony of Innocence is a four movement work that reflects musically an emotional reaction to a particular paragraph of Nabokov's Lolita (p.39 of the Putnam paperback). There, the lodge-seeking Humbert finally makes up his mind to take the room offered by Mrs. Haze, as he spots the nymphet out in the backyard next to the garden.

All four movements use the same harmonic vocabulary
two combinatorial hexachordsto allow rhapsodic freedom in the foreground level of musical expression.

The first movement, "Reflection of Wet Knees," has a limpid, impressionistic mood that uses the two hexachords as broken accompanimental figures. The music is flowing and moist.

The second movement, "Patterns in Sand," is dry combinations of dancing eighth notes that group together in circles, squares, and pyramids in the score. The eighth note pulse is continuous until near the end when each instrument plays a kind of independent written-out improvisation, held together only by comping on the piano.

"This Is My Lo; Those Are Your Lilies," the third movement, uses variation technique and sudden bursts of color. It has a pastoral, reflective middle section, subtitled "Her Tender Hum," where the harmonic rhthym stops and a single harmony is sustained to support the simple flute melody.

The fourth movement, "Yes, I Said, They're Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!" refers to Humbert's commenting ostensibly to Mrs. Haze's flowers, when in reality his mind is only on Lolita. This ironic dualism is brought about musically by the alteration of quick staccato tutti's against hymn-like introspective phrases.