All Work and No Play by Daniel Felsenfeld
For Piccolo and Piano
“I wrote this piece for my friend Stephanie Mortimore in 2007, flute/piccolo of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, but it was not as easy as all that. When she approached me about the work, I was thrilled: not only is she an astonishing player, but there is always something in the back of at least this composer’s head that believes writing for instruments with a paucity of solo repertoire, as if the road to fame and lucre was there (as opposed to writing yet another string quartet).
But the piece took time. I threw away far more music than I kept, and because it was a solo sound I had to stretch to envision (more than, say, the piano, violin, or cello) more effort was spent, the last phase of which was:
1. At Yaddo during an extremely cold, snowy January
2. In my own apartment in Brooklyn which, due to a lot of rain, made my studio inoperable and so my piano was placed in the middle of the living
room, on display, not ideal.
I like a lot of privacy when I work. For these reason, I began to think of Mr. J. Torrance in the Overlook Hotel, going slightly mad (well, not slightly I suppose) and so came up with the title All Work and No Play. It seemed to fit the music: demented, sad, funny without ever being whimsical, driving and threatening to come unhinged at any moment. I also remember my little cabin in Saratoga Springs, lights flickering, with sheets and sheets of scrawled score taped to the walls and me looking at the fifty or so manic pages and trying to make some sense of it all. It was the right kind of insanity, the kind one needs, I think, to be a composer.”