The Dreams of the Sound Convincer was born very spontaneously, at the time, almost without a considerable effort, it seemed. This made me suspicious. Did it merit its quite bombastic name? Did it justify the elaborate and theatrical use of the 100 ping-pong balls so boldly included in the title of the piece?

Just like those little white plastic balls, which pull you into the world of the piece in the second movement, it seems to withstand the test of time very nicely. It is long by today’s standards where everybody needs to have quick and revolving (non)experiences. But it doesn’t feel long. It feels full of meaningful moments, and its harmony still sounds fresh and compelling, like it did when I wrote it.

Bad Fate

What a pity this work has had such a bad fate, which could be summed up with two words – never performed. The interaction between the pianist, the unofficial leader of the pack, and the other three instruments is largely lost if you are only listening to the score and not watching a performance or a recording. But it is there, believe me. The pianist in our story is the mysterious Sound Convincer. Dreaming of worlds and situations that have never been or past and forgotten. He thinks he controls this dream with the presumption that since it is his dream, it reflects the mundane associations we have with dreams. But this dream is not about “working out” what has happened or “making sense” of everydayness. The dream has its own life in a way, and the other three character-instruments are not always timid collaborators. The Convincer’s attempt to coax them into submission at the beginning of the second movement by bouncing the balls on the floor and, in a way demanding the strings to follow him very soon fall apart when they embark on a sonorous section only on open strings. It sounds like the three strings are returning back in time to the absolute foundation of sound when open strings are all you have to make a sound. A compelling improvisation-like section in the piano, which runs concurrently, does not manage to persuade them otherwise. In turn, they gather physically, on stage, the ping-pong balls and drop them into the open piano as if in a gesture of defiance and rebellion.

The piano then rediscovers new abilities. The randomly bouncing balls inside it make it sound much more unpredictable, spontaneous, quirky, and humorous. Its pompousness is punctured, and now the ground is clear for a more equal-footed collaboration. This will commence but not without a whole movement with only the three strings, called Trio di Sogno, or Trio of Dreams/Dreamy Trio.

The last, fourth movement, is a testament to their newfound togetherness until the piano becomes so enthusiastic that it embarks on a fast folk-like dance. The other three don’t follow, and the piece finishes with the keyboard vanishing into the distance with a small cloud of dust in its wake as if one of those cartoon characters, while the three strings bring the piece to a close with beautiful contemplative chords.

Score:

The Dreams of the Sound Convincer full score

Recording: