I have a quasi-religious relationship to Chopin’s Ballades. If I stumble on one of them unexpectedly–on the radio, in a hotel lobby, or walking past a pianist’s practice room–I have to stop and sit down. Years ago, I communed with the Ballades to such a degree that now I almost fear them. Of all the Ballades, I was most affected by the Fourth. I’d read that Chopin wanted this piece to have a “sickly, creepy” feeling, which reminded me of an interview I’d read with Thom Yorke in which he’d said the goal of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” was to make the listener feel “emotionally nauseated.” In both cases these characterizations struck me as poignantly apt; there is a point at which introspection can feel vertiginous. I’m not sure I shared this artistic objective for this piece, but I kept thinking about it as I was writing it. Because of this, and in homage to the many technical and structural features of Chopin’s Ballades that inspired the writing of this piece, I decided to call it Ballade.
Ballade is dedicated to the wonderful pianist and composer Laurie Altman, my piano teacher in high school.
Snider’s Ballade was a composition inspired by the 4th Chopin Ballade often employing polyrhythms (such as Chopin used in the last set of three etudes) and romantic musical devices while maintaining a contemporary harmonic palette...The form was interesting and compelling throughout."