quartet for piano (2010)


This is my first piece of the new year-a solo piano work titled quartet for piano composed for the triumvirate of Alessandra Celletti, Louis Goldstein and Stephane Ginsburgh. These are three pianists who I greatly respect, admire, and feel have done a lot for new music. I know all three of them only via the Internet, although I almost was able to get together in person with Alessandra a few years ago in Rome. Nonetheless, I trust their musical instincts, and felt they would be among the most capable people of interpreting anything I could devise for piano.

So about the piece: it’s one of my shorter works for piano, although it lasts around 40 minutes in one continuous gesture. It’s extremely quiet throughout its duration, and except for the last 3 minutes or so, has no hint of rapid movement. In other words, it’s a pretty calm, slow piece. Why quartet? Because there are four lines that, at times, are somewhat independent. It just couldn’t have been notated clearly on the standard two-staff system but four seemed to work best. As with my earlier piano works from the 80’s, there are no barlines. Accidentals hold for a system, although I tried to put in sufficient accidentals so as to make the notes clear. There are also a few sections where one hand is in what amounts to a different tempo than the other. For example, on page 20 the top two staves are playing 7:8 eighth notes whereas the third staff is 3:2 half notes. Even more tricky from a performance perspective: page 29 (the outer staves, involving both hands, are running 3:2 while the inner staves are 5:4). It’s playable, however. I think.

Without question the work has many influences–it’s impossible not to compose music that reflects one’s own tastes. But in all honesty, what I was thinking of as I started to write it was Carter’s Night Fantasies. It’s a work that I don’t like at all, other than the first page, and in some ways I thought of quartet for piano as what I thought Night Fantasies should have been. It’s very much a stream of consciousness piece, and its domain is clearly a nocturnal one, at least to me.

The audio file is here.

The score is here.