Imaginations 2, melodrama for baritone and piano (and doll)

(1985/rev. 2023)

Commissioned by the Fund for the Creative Arts.

Holland Festival 1986. Lieuwe Visser and Robert Nasveld performing the world premiere of Imaginations 2. VPRO television, direct broadcast.

In Imaginations 1 (1978) I had used an imaginary text and modest theatrical elements. As my imagination had in no way been depleted, I felt the urge to compose a second part. I had more or less definite ideas about the structure of the composition then, but I did not get around to the actual composing until 1985. In 1982 however, I had altered my style of composing so drastically, that I was no longer able to utilize the idiom of part I. Finally I managed to find a style in-between, so to speak, in an idiom that I had not used before. The theatrical element as well is carried far beyond what I had employed there.

Though the composition is almost noted down to the last detail, the performers often seem to be improvising. The result is a composition in which the imagination is given a much freer rein than in part I, which is more modest. The minor third plays an important role.

The construction of the words is as follows. The consonants from the alphabet are organized using a system of rotation. The vowels are organized according to two sound circles. I retained the same textual construction as in part I, but permitted myself many more liberties.

The inside effects played by the pianist were inspired by Henry Cowells’ and George Crumb’s piano music. I performed their compositions many times.

Have a look at the lyrics and listen to the pronunciation here.