Laura Usiskin, May 2009
To Laura Usiskin
Tarantella for solo cello is not meant to be an authentic representation of the folk tradition from Taranto, Italy; rather, it attempts to distill the essence of this folk-lorical healing dance through the lens of the virtuoso show piece. The idea that rhythm could ward off evil spirits is a very ancient concept--the dance would have been improvised, created in the moment as a response to the situation. This music is meant to evoke that same sense of urgency, as if dancing a fandango with the very spider whose poison one is trying to escape.
The Tarantella consists of two main parts: an opening lament and a frenzied dance. It is dedicated gratefully to Laura Usiskin, whose intelligence, musicality, and passion were instrumental in the genesis of this work.