Piano Variations (1990)

Piano Variations dedicated to Robert Turner on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. The opening few measures of the second movement of Turner’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (1956) are drawn upon for source material. The use of Turner’s music as a starting point for the Variations is analogous with the fact that his teaching marked the beginning of my formal musical training.

The brief excerpt of “Turner Music” is made up of two distinct parts: a six-note pitch collection found in the bass, and triadic sonorities which move in stepwise motion above. I have separated these two components and use the six-note collection as a melodic and harmonic foundation for the entire work. The triadic sonorities remain unchanged in mood and character and appear only in their original form. The actual “Turner Music” appears for the first time about two-thirds of the way through the work and is presented at various transpositions.

Piano Variations opens with an original theme (the Stravinsky reference is coincidental) which displays my own reflection of the source material. Proceeding through a fairly stable variety of moods and colour shifts, the piece is faced with the “Turner Music” and the realization of its origins. The polarity of the material results in dialoguing and the potential for conflict. By the end of the work, the opening theme and the “Turner Music” reach a certain level of agreement which allows for a peaceful resolution of the differences.

Piano Variations was composed for, and premiered by Edmonton pianist Roger Admiral and is approximately 10 minutes in duration.

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