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Pleasant Point – Rag Verismo is the second version of a piece with this title, the first being an embarrassingly youthful effort. Pleasant Point is a very small township (consisting mostly of cottages) just outside of Timaru, a small town on the southern end of the South Island of New Zealand. It was here during summers that I often spent what were my happiest memories of living in New Zealand. I stayed with one of the friends of my mother, Myra Vance, who became a sort of surrogate Grandmother. Everything in her house was historical; the house, the wind-up gramophone, the books and bookshelves, the harmonium, the beds, furniture and garden. At Myra’s cottage (in Pleasant Point itself) there was another wind-up gramophone with some old Enrico Caruso records; arguably one of my first musical experiences. For that reason, the entire melodic and harmonic foundation of this rag is based on the Vesti la Gubbia arioso from Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci (which I have never heard Caruso sing, but it is nevertheless the arioso with which he is most strongly associated) and you will hear quotes and references to it everywhere, especially in the second section. Myra Vance, like Grandma Moses, started painting late in life, and though now in her eighties, has had several exhibitions, some internationally. This one is dedicated to her.
for Myra Vance
Performed by Matthew Davidson at the Smith Recital Hall of University of Illinois, USA