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Marga Richter
Snow Mountain: A Spiritual Trilogy

Marga Richter has never followed any prescribed theory, system, or style of composition. Melodic contour, rather than any formula for tonality or serialization, is the fundamental element in her music. The continuous line from the beginning to the end of each piece is what governs the form. She writes,

"Composing is my response to a constant desire to transform my perceptions and emotions into music. Everything that touches me, everything I become aware of as beautiful, or mysterious, or painful, or joyful, or unknowable becomes an immediate or eventual source of inspiration. Music is the way I speak to the silence of the universe."

Qhanri: "In the spring of 1986 I visited Tibet. It was an overwhelming experience. The feeling of being in another world was all-pervasive. I decided to write a piece about these feelings. Outside the Jokhang Temple I had recorded a chanting monk. When I subsequently heard a similar refrain sung by young novices at the nearby Drepung Monastery I decided to use it as thematic material, although not as the opening Theme, for the Variations. My chromatic alterations of the original diatonic, but melismatically embellished, chant are an expression of what I perceived to be a deep sadness underlying the cheerful demeanor of the Tibetan people.

"A fragmented version of this altered motif first appears as a poignant cello incursion at the climax of Variation 1. Various forms of it are heard throughout the piece but not until the second half of Variation 20 is it harmonized with a major triad, giving it, at last, a closer kinship with the original chant and an optimistic, triumphant coloration. This chant is the only Tibetan musical reference in this piece. However, the opening Theme was written during an early morning drive through the Lhasa Valley as the heavy pre-dawn fog slowly lifted, showing first the rich dark-brown color of the lower mountains, then gradually clearing to reveal the snowy peaks in all their primordial grandeur, set off against the glowing azure sky.

"Requiem was begun as a piece for solo guitar. When it eventually became apparent that it needed more power and sonority than one guitar could provide it became a work for solo piano. However, the original conception is cogently evident in the many guitar-like passages and the circumscribed four-and-a-third-octave range. It was written in response to a deeply-felt personal loss, and became a plea for the ultimate repose of all departed souls.

"From 1968 through 1979 I wrote a series of three works entitled Landscapes of the Mind. The first is a concerto for piano with orchestra, the second is included here, and the third is a piano trio. The concerto was directly inspired by two of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings, "Sky Above Clouds II" and "Pelvis I," and all three pieces seek to convey the spaciousness and spare serenity of the paintings contrasted with inner turbulence, urgency and ultimate isolation (although the concerto ends with a triumphant Raga section).

"Landscapes II begins quietly and slowly, gradually growing more intense until, after a brief snatch of a diabolical waltz, the violin plays an extended melody accompanied by just two constantly alternating chords. The piano then presents a slow, sensuous version of the waltz, followed by a section of wildly fluctuating tempi and dynamics, which leads to a subdued conclusion that recalls the mood of the opening. The piece was written for Daniel Heifetz, and was included in his prize-winning program for the 1978 Tschaikovsky Competition."



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