This composition is a set of variations based on a three-part theme. The
variations are gathered together in four movements, each with its own shape and
mood, although cross references and relationships abound.
The first movement presents the theme and a four variations. The general
character of these variations are improvisatory and probing. The final
variation, a presto, brings the first movement to a breathless finish.
The second movement, comprised of variations 5-7, is somewhat of a
continuation of the last variation of the previous movement. It moves quite
quickly in steady sixteenth notes and triplets (although with a bit of rubato).
This gives way to a collage cadenza; here the musical movement is again somewhat
hesitant and pondering. It is characterized by quick changes of mood, from very
pensive, wispy, and atmospheric, to slightly mad! This section gives way to a
return of the sixteenth note motion of the opening variation, but always with a
degree of hesitancy.
The third movement is marked majestic, and includes variation 8 and a
dance-like music, that has almost the quality of a delicately distorted pavanne.
These dance-like sections always give way to the variation material. At the
conclusion, a final reference is made to the very first variation.
The final movement, formed entirely of variation 9, is based on variation 4,
which in turn, is based on the thematic idea played in reverse. More
importantly, it is based on steady sixteenth-note motion in two groups of 3, and
is played as fast as possible. A middle section of a more quiet, keening music
presents a brief contrast before the quick-paced music returns. Seminal ideas of
the theme are heard, as all aspects of the work are drawn together as the work
races to a breathless conclusion.
The work, written in 1985 while I was living in Oberlin, was written with the
support of the Ohio State Arts Council.