for solo piano
Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra has always resonated with me. It seems so vast and varied, and so perfectly and ingeniously constructed that there is always something new to be found in it. In these variations, I have taken the first phrase of the second movement, “Giuoco Delle Coppie” (the Game of the Pairs), as my subject.
The piece follows an arch form, first moving through variations of increasing rapidity, reaching a climax at the center of the piece with a sparse, textural variation which suggests the theme in its most distant form, and then moving towards the end through a series of standard compositional forms (fugue, waltz, etc). Another piece that inspired this work was Lutoslawski’s “Variations on a Theme of Paganini” for two pianos. While the form of my piece (and much of the piano writing) is inspired by Lutoslawski, I later realized how close the structure of my variations are to Bartok’s original movement as well.
Martin Kennedy, piano
Paul Recital Hall, Juilliard School, New York City (2004)
1. Theme and Variation 1