Professor Di Castri’s new work for solo piano, “The Untellable Hour of Quiet”, received its world premiere by pianist Clare Longendyke with a performance in Bridgton, Maine. Another performance is upcoming at the Stocker Arts Center’s Cirigliano Studio Theatre in Elyria, Ohio alongside works by Anthony Cheung, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.
The Untellable Hour of Quiet was commissioned by pianist Clare Longendyke as a response to Maurice Ravel’s “Oiseaux tristes” from Miroirs (1904). Whereas Ravel’s piece sets a mood of “birds lost in the torpor of a very dark forest during the hottest hours of summer”, Di Castri’s music abstractly evokes the eerie yellow haze that captivated and alarmed New Yorkers in June 2023, when wildfire smoke from Canada shrouded the city in a strange, unearthly atmosphere. Like T.S. Eliot’s “yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes” in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, this piano work poetically points to various possible associations: our inertia towards climate change; a sickly, listless urban environment and our longing for connection with nature; a sense of alienation and anxiety; a wariness towards the future; a spiritual crisis of unknowing; and a primal animal instinct for love. And yet, the end, unexpectedly, might suggest a more optimistic outlook. Finally, the piece also makes reference to another poem, “Maurice Ravel” by Frank O’Hara, from which it draws its title.