“Music for Piano” Notes:
Peter Jancewicz became a composer after an injury to his hands forced him to stop playing piano for several years. After composing some music for students and since his hands were recovering, he decided to write music for his own performances. “Music for Piano” is a collection of favourite pieces composed since 2005
Evening Rain (2005) was the first successful advanced piece I composed. It is inspired by a lovely poem by Carlo Toselli, from a collection called “What is Time?”. I stumbled across this poem because my wife Susan, also a piano teacher, taught Mr. Toselli’s grandchildren, Domenic, Chiara and Francis Toselli. The book was given as a gift to Susan by the family, and I immediately fell in love with the poetry. An unusual feature of his poetry is that he has written it all in three languages: Italian, French and English.
Fantaisie (2012) was inspired by and dedicated to a former teacher of mine, Jean-Paul Sevilla. As head of Academy Piano at MRU, I had invited Jean-Paul to come and give some masterclasses for our advanced students. One evening, after a busy day of music making, we were at dinner and he told me that he had always wanted to write variations on Purcell’s aria, “If Love’s a sweet passion, why does it torment?” from the Fairy Queen. He then suggested that I try it. I listened to the theme, but decided that I didn’t really want to write variations on it. While he was visiting, though, I started playing with some other ideas for a new piece, and somehow fragments of the Purcell kept sneaking their way in. So, surrendering to the inevitable, I decided to write a fantasy using elements of the Purcell aria as a base. One can hear a direct quote from the theme near the end, although re-harmonized in way that most likely would have startled and perhaps dismayed Purcell.
Three Haiku (2007) A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem. It consists of three lines with a total of seventeen syllables. The first contains five syllables, the second has seven and the third five again. They usually have an allusion to nature and the seasons. Three Haiku was inspired by the poetry of Inge Israel and dedicated to my former teacher, Helmut Brauss and his wife Kuniko. Susan and I were invited to dinner at their home in Victoria where we met Inge and her husband Werner. She was kind enough to give me a book of her poetry, which I read with delight. I loved the concise precision of the haiku form, and I found Inge’s images captivating. The titles for the three pieces are my own, taken from the poetry: Ice Crystals, The Heron and Spider’s Web. She has also written several other books of poetry which I highly recommend.
To Quiet Lands (2008) was written for my mother, Elise Marie Therese van der Leeuw. I put her maiden name in here because she was intensely proud of being both Dutch and a van der Leeuw. At the time I was composing the piece, she was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease and fading fast. For inspiration, I visited a website posted by Walter Aue (see below) and came across his translation of Waldlied (Forest Song) by Nicolas Lenau. Walter was also kind enough to give me permission to use his lovely photograph, “Leaves and Waves” for the cover of this CD. The poem suited my mood exactly, and I was inspired to write the piece. I gave the premiere in a recital at Leacock Theatre, Mount Royal University, Calgary four days before she died, February 13, 2008. I like to think that she was waiting for me to play it before she left.
beyond darkness, there lies light (2009) was written immediately following the death of my brother, Thom, on January 9, 2009. It was the day before his 50th birthday, and he inexplicably took his own life. As is often the case with suicide, nobody has any idea why he did it, although he struggled with bi-polar depression all his life. The title was paraphrased from a film, “Brick Lane”. A young Bangladeshi woman is trapped in a loveless and apparently hopeless marriage in London, far away from home and her family. In a moment of desperation, she prays, “Beyond this darkness, let there be light.”
In Memoriam (2011) Dedicated to both my parents, Elise Marie and Wlodzimierz Karol Jancewicz. My father died in August 2011, the last of my immediate family. I had spoken with him the afternoon of his death from Johnson’s Canyon, near Banff, where I was vacationing with Susan, my sister-in-law Gayle, and Grant and Ellaina, my brother Thom’s children. He sounded fine on the phone. We returned that evening, and the phone rang during a big thunder and hail storm. It was the nursing home informing me that my father was on the way to the hospital. When we got to the hospital, we were informed that he had passed away. He was old and ill, and I believe more than ready to go, but it was still difficult for all of us. On the positive side, I think he generally had a good life, despite his continued struggles with bi-polar depression. Those with sharp ears will hear the “Dies irae” theme played in several guises.
...like the night of starry skies… (2012) After writing a series of pieces dealing with death and grief, my wife Susan thought it was time for me to write something in another vein. I agreed, and set out to write a beautiful piece. It was inspired by a lovely romantic poem by Lord Byron, and dedicated to Susan.
Baetica Variations (2008) was written for and dedicated to my wife Susan. It is a set of variations written on the theme of the intermezzo from Manuel de Falla’s Fantasia Baetica (1919). It was commissioned by and dedicated to Artur Rubinstein. I wrote the variations on a suggestion by Susan, and since her hands are small for a pianist, she requested that there be no large stretches in the piece. Susan asked me to write it without articulation markings to see if we felt the same way about the piece. We did. She also played some of the fast variations faster than I thought necessary. I came around to her way of thinking. “Provincia Baetica”is the old Roman name for the area along the Mediterranean in southern Spain known as Andalusia. Fans of Spanish music with sharp ears will notice a quote in one of the variations: the “Chanson du Feu Follet” from Falla’s “El Amor Brujo”.