Summer 1981, Lukas Foss began to compose SOLO, his first piano piece in twenty-eight years, for the pianist Yvar Mikhashoff who premiered it in Paris in March 1982. An initial twelve-tone motive reigns. Yet this is not twelve-toone music. The motive is like a theme which undergoes constant change. Nor is this minimal music; in spite of insistent repetitions, each repetition also contains a change implying development, growth and forward movement. Solo is a long development section, “senza sonata”; lumbering, struggling eighth-notes, circling, spiralling, forging ahead, always on the way, never pausing, never giving up, forever closing in on…
In the Spring of 1982, Lukas Foss and the Lincoln Center Chamber Players premiered a new version of Solo at the New World Festival in Miami, Florida. This version has an extended coda in which three other instruments join the piano, after some ten minutes of silent observing of the solo part. The three instruments are a keyboard instrument, a harp or cello and percussion.
The score has the word “Fine” written a bar before the end. This paradox should be explained: the last bar is like an appendage or error–the piano playing on without its master or the phonograph needle (metaphorically speaking) returning to the opening automatically, as the engine stops.
- Lukas Foss – Solo Observed
Lukas Foss, piano
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: Fred Sherry, cello/Richard Fitz, vibraphone/Charles Wadsworth, electric organ