Cellopianian Flights

for cello and piano
premiered September 21, 2008
Tom Flaherty, cello, Genevieve Lee, piano
Bridges Hall of Music
Claremont, CA

Available on Albany Records:

Opening on a mellow, sustained beat that grows ever more urgent, there is a simple beauty to the tango-like pulse of Cellopianian Flights. Originally scored for cello and marimba, Flaherty's specially prepared piano creates cimbalom-like sounds for the long arching cello lines to work with. Ever more urgently, it creates a Newton's cradle-like effect of sustained momentum and energy.

-Barnaby Rayfield, Fanfare Magazine


Cellopianian Flights is an arrangement of an earlier piece for cello and marimba, Cellorimbian Flights. This new version, for cello and piano, expands the sonic possibilities of the piano with a few "preparations" inside the instrument.

The piece is in three movements: "Tangoid," "Recollections," and "Marchuet," and might be heard as a song surrounded by dances.

"Tangoid" never uses the specific rhythms associated with the tango, but is infused with its sensual insinuations. Syncopations constantly challenge the steady pulse, playfully at first, with more determination as time passes. From sly, laid back beginnings the music moves forward in ever-increasing anxious tension, accelerating to a final explosive release.

"Recollections" reflects on regrets, reconciliations, and inevitability. Inward improvisatory solos interspersed with flashes of light ultimately lead to a searching melody in the cello, which gives way to the piano's reassuringly steady conclusion.

"Marchuet" combines aspects of the march, the minuet, and even a little mariachi in an increasingly giddy entanglement, bringing the piece to a rousing if slightly loopy close.

Cellorimbian Flights was written for cellist Roger Lebow, percussionist David Johnson, and Xtet, all bright lights in the Los Angeles musical landscape. It was a pleasure to have the piece premiered in the decades-long Monday Evening Concerts series.

This new version is dedicated to Roger and to the sparkling pianist Genevieve Lee.

Tangoid score excerpt
Recollections score excerpt
Marchuet score excerpt