Programme Notes – Absinthe (2010)

In the second half of the nineteenth century the drink Absinthe became known as the queen of poisons, and was readily taken up by several of the world’s most important artists including Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Gaugin and Picasso. I particularly like the idea that the word Absinthe is derived from the Greek word Absinthion meaning undrinkable. In this ten minute piano solo I have been particularly drawn to a painting by Edgar Degas L’absinthe which, to my eyes devastatingly depicts the breakdown of a relationship between a woman (drinking absinthe) and a man (drinking coffee.) The imagined combination of non-communication, poignant memories, suppressed violence and complete desperate intoxication makes for a heady musical brew, and I have attempted to explore the sleazier side of my musical way of creating, with a passing nod to Wagner and Debussy.

Absinthe was first performed by Graham Scott at the Royal Northern College of Music on February 17th 2010. It has since been performed in student recitals and end of year examinations and will be given its London premiere by Nestor Bayona in a PLG concert on 10th January.