DEEP BLUE OCEAN

for two pianos

Written: 2010
Duration: 12'
Instrumentation: two pianos
Written Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen of the American Modern Ensemble
PremiereAmerican Modern EnsemblePowerhouse Pianists II concert, Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen, pianos, Faust Harrison Pianos, New York, NY, June 24 & 25, 2010. 
PublisherBill Holab Music

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PROGRAM NOTES

Although Deep Blue Ocean is not meant to be overtly programmatic, I thought it would be wonderful to explore the oceanic depths, so during a trip to the Gulf of Mexico I became a certified scuba diver. I was truly inspired, whether by the large rolling waves on the open sea, the delicate back and forth of beds of seaweed, the vibrant colors of fish clustering around cities of coral, or the beams of sunlight that cascade over the ocean’s surface.

I was also inspired by my four year old son Dylan: his name means ocean or god of the seas in Welsh; he is an Aquarius, which means the water bearer; he is an excellent swimmer, and he loves listening to a movement of one of my choral works entitled Infinite Oceans.

While writing this piece, I could not have known that the worst oil spill in U.S. history would occur just north of where I visited. The darker moments in this work are the result of this tragedy. It is in three connected movements: The Darkness BelowSunbeams and Waterfalls, and Accents and Waves.

Deep Blue Ocean is written for Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen of the American Modern Ensemble and is dedicated to my son Dylan.

Robert Paterson’s triptych Deep Blue Ocean starts with Jazzy evocations, slips into Messiaen’s stained-glass harmony, goes salsa, then concludes with expansive pop ‘power’ chords that gently pulsate: a fun, uninhibited piece.
— Jed Distler, Gramophone
Among the standout works on Powerhouse Pianists II is Robert Paterson’s three-movement concerto titled Deep Blue Ocean which was written especially for Gosling and McMillen... The movements - “The Darkness Below,” “Sunbeams and Waterfalls,” and “Accents and Waves “ – are so through-composed that they could easily be performed as stand-alone works because of their dark bass ruminations, block chords, tinkling rising patterns and intense waves of resonance. Composed in 2010, these fresh pieces qualify for inclusion in the concerti repertoire of today’s classical pianists.
— LA Music Examiner
Ars Nostra’s release is notable for its pieces with two pianos. Robert Paterson’s Deep Blue Ocean begins with a raging darkness that is tempered by cascading lines in the upper registers. All three movements have a deep entrenched sense of hope that refuses to be beaten by the octatonics, clusters, or dense rhythms.
— American Record Guide
Mr. Paterson’s Deep Blue Ocean is truly oceanic and teeming...”
— The New York Times
Robert Paterson, the AME’s artistic director, was represented by the beautiful first movement of Deep Blue Ocean, in which subtle, dense groups of chords gradually ascend to the upper regions of the keyboard. In sad irony, the work was inspired by the composer’s trip to the Gulf Coast, now dominating the news as the site of the worst oil spill in United States history.
— Bruce Hodges, MusicWeb International
To my ears, [Deep Blue Ocean] is the most accessible work on the album. Paterson has a way of creating colorful visual images through sound that allows the listener to share the experience that inspired the music... I highly recommend this portion of the album!
— Kathy Parsons, MainlyPiano.com