Études part II

Kay, A. (2020) Études part II. [Composition] (Unpublished)


Six pieces for piano solo, total duration 18 minutes, titled as follows: VII Soliloquy; VIII Ghost canon; IX Toccata; X Orision II; XI Lullaby for Isabelle; XII Lines and fields. The audio and video recordings of these pieces available below are by Rachel Fryer (Études VII - IX) and Rustam Khanmurzin (Études X - XII). The first three of these pieces (Études VII, VIII and IX) were premiered online by Rachel Fryer in August 2020 at the JAM on the Marsh Virtual Festival in Kent. They were also performed by Rachel Fryer at the Virtual Hurst Festival in September 2020 and a recording of the concert, including a talk on the Variations Down the Line project for which they were commissioned, is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkFD0znv0sQ (discussion of Alison Kay's pieces begins at 10:15, and performance of them, interspersed with Bach's Goldberg Variations, begins at 1:44:23). Composer's note: "Études VII VIII and IX were written in response to a commission for the Variations Down the Line project. The pianist Rachel Fryer conceived the idea to commission five contemporary composers to write a set of three variations based directly on and performed with Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I have placed my contribution within my on-going Études project as the individual movements are also dealing with discreet forms and focused compositional ideas. The brief was very restrictive and so the focus of the music is to find freedom and difference from within the Bach. Rather than obscure the original or flout the rules of the brief, the works are aligned rigidly with the originals and limited parameters are employed to create both familiarity and difference. The pieces are mapped directly onto the original material. In Soliloquy there is a modal approach to the aria taking the bones of the melody and applying expansive ornamentation, taking a characteristic of the original and altering its function and nature. There is the simplicity of sharing a single line between hands to form one voice. The Toccata is based on no. 25 of the Goldberg Variations. All of Bach’s notes are used in the same order and varied only via register within a constant rhythm. The slow movement is converted to a fast movement with an altered perception of melody, harmony and rhythm. Different hierarchies and fundamentals are found from within the material and micro-rhythms are generated through registral placement and articulation. The Ghost Canon was written at the beginning of lockdown whilst rather unwell. I contained the notes within Bach’s start notes for each bar, ghosting the original, but working with interval within that framework to create a canon. The tonal nature of the original presented some anomalies within the intervallic work which are incorporated into the fabric of the piece. It was initially designed to be played either very fast and quiet or very slow and quiet. It is introverted, constrained and barely audible. In a reconsideration of the nature of repeats a slow fast fast slow structure can be used where repeats are required. In Orison II the music is stripped to a bare minimum to alter the experience of performer and perception of the audience. There is an exploration of resonance, interval and space. Lullaby for Isabelle plays with ideas of perceived simultaneous temporalities to emulate stages between consciousness and sleep. Lines and Fields uses partial serialism, rotation and symmetry, projecting line to chords and harmonic fields whilst drawing ambiguous fragments of melody through the vertical texture."

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item