The Fantasia No. 1 is a suite of five pieces based on or related to its first movement, the Harpsichord Toccata. Possessing the mood but forgoing the structural components of the keyboard sonatas by the eighteenth century Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian masters, the Toccata has a free form, rhapsodic quality with rapidly developing sections. In its original form, this piece like many of the earlier toccatas, was originally designed for the purpose of testing the capabilities of various keyboard instruments. Now, it has been revised and recomposed for a study in instrumentation. The Toccata for Harpsichord is the first of its three arrangements.
The second movement is a Tango Reverie for Piano. Using elements of the habanera, tango andaluz, tango de salon, French impressionism, and late romanticism, it alternately contrasts and blends formality, emotional romanticism, and suggestion. I have created a variant of the opening motif of the Albeniz Tango in D for the principal motif of the main theme. This theme alternates with a lush secondary theme that is simultaneously expressive and atmospheric. Inventive modulations and the expressive abilities of the piano successively transform these themes to create a unique evocation.
The Impromptu for Piano is essentially the piano version of the Toccata. with some expansion and revision, and constitutes its second arrangement. The expressive capabilities of the piano, especially the pedal and variation of dynamics, give this piece a quality decidedly more related to the Romantic period. Naturally, the rhapsodic and expansive character of the piece has been retained, but it now feels more like an improvisation that tests the possibilities of the musical material rather than a device that tests the capabilities of instruments.
Although the fourth movement is adapted from the Tango Reverie for Piano, this work explores new territory through the use of bossa nova rhythms and a jazz type development of principal themes to create a contrapuntal mélange of melodies and countermelodies. Rigidity in the vibes part is used to capture the sense of hovering and sudden movement, while rapidly repetitive percussion suggests the high speed fluttering of the wings. An easygoing bass and graceful and whimsical countermelodies in the guitar invoke the overall shimmering character. The saxophone part is intended to convey the emotional response to this spectacle. The Portuguese name is included in the title because of its descriptive meaning: Flower Kisser.
The original theme returns in the fifth and final movement of the Fantasia Suite. . As its third arrangement, the Rhapsody for Portuguese Guitar Quartet represents the culmination of a study in instrumentation and composition based on the first movement Toccata.. Now the Toccata feels like it has found its true home as new comfortable territory is explored. A natural energy is achieved as duple and triple rhythms play against each other and Iberian chromaticism and harmonic constructions. As noted above, this piece was at first designed for purposes of testing various keyboard instruments; now it has been recomposed to see what possibilities exist in different instrumentations.
Euphoriana explores a number of jazz-based themes and rhythms through classical methods as an underlying milonga ostinato with percussive jazz accents sets the background for a variety of tonal, percussive, and rhythmic textures in this highly polyphonic composition. The piece is enhanced by an interesting variety of instruments.
While reminiscent of the tango-romanzas of the Rio de la Plata, Romanza combines unusually accented variants of traditional milonga and sincopa rhythms with elements of French musette styles and Franco-Russian and 19th century classical romances to create a uniquely evocative musical work. Various moods are created as the thematic matter leisurely wends its way through subtle modulations between the tonic minor key, its relative major, and the corresponding Aeolian and Dorian modes. Romanza is scored for violin(s), bandoneons (or accordions), guitar(s), and bass(es).