Composer's note: I named my new work Buttermilk Falls, which refers to an impressive forty five foot waterfall within a forty eight acre scenic woodland in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and which was for me a very recent discovery. Part of Indiana County Parks since 1995, it is located two miles south of Route 22 at Clyde (one mile west of Armagh) between Blairsville and Ebensburg.
The work for English horn and Piano consists of seven variations that form three movements: 1) "Spring morning thaw," 2) "Faun stops by of a summer afternoon," with its reference to and quote from Debussy, and 3) "Autumn evening," referring to autumn colors seen in their evening tones.
Variations I-IV make up the first movement. Each of the variations consists of 2 periods, closely related but harmonic variants of each other. Each period is divided into 2 phrases, mirrors or inversions of each other; an ascending antecedent followed by its inversion, a descending consequence. And each phrase is based on the alternation of 2 chords, heard 3 times each, in 3 transpositions, a1-b1, a2-b2, a3-b3. The title, "Spring morning thaw," refers to the sounds similarity to the process of ice melting, breaking into more numerous, smaller pieces on its way to gathering strength and becoming a continuous flow of water.
"Faun stops by of a summer afternoon" is in a binary form consisting of Variation V and a contrasting Variation VI. Variation V with its long, angular, expressive melody in the English horn is followed by a short interlude connecting to an inversion of that melody. This interlude or bridge begins in the piano and is soon rejoined by the English horn in a musical quote from Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun" that appears momentarily, as if the faun is peaking through the leaves blowing in the gentle breeze of a sunny summer afternoon.
"Autumn evening" consists of a hybridization formed by shifting, mixing and floating parts, akin to autumn colors seen in their evening tones. The form devolves from three periods to two periods, to a conclusion of one large encompassing period.