Amnesia Kiss was written in the Fall of 1995 for the ‘cellist David Russell at his gentle insistence. The titles function as both keys and mysterious barricades to the music, ultimately providing a map of false turns and paths. The music requires the full range from cello and player.
The main title can be understood either as “the blessing of forgetting” or “a kiss so powerful one loses one’s identity.” The phrase one hand washes the other has always brought to my mind two hands with just a little wrist attached, levitating in the air. The music comes out as a meditation on friendship and action, as when farmers gather to raise a barn or house, or when musicians gather to play. Claude and the kids are fine, we wish you were here is an homage to Claude Vivier and is riddled with references to his way with music, including a synthesis of Arabic and Balinese traditions. I continue to regret his sudden death and that I never met him. Memory erase is a phrase I use to describe the gradual fading of those memories that one holds most dear. Even as the most delicious recollections begin to dissolve, some message from one of the senses, like the scent of lilacs, whispers “I’ll be seeing you…”
When a composer writes for a friend the result is in some ways a portrait, or perhaps a two-way mirror – evidence of liveliness and continuing thanks.