Duo Variations for viola and piano, opus 42 (1990)
Duo Variations was written in 1990 for Patricia Pollett. Her energetic and musically intelligent style of playing was a strong influence on the thinking behind the piece. So it is hardly surprising that the work is cast in the style of a virtuosic duo in which brilliance of technique needs to be matched by an empathy for the continual, often rapid, transformations of material that occur.
The piece, consisting of a theme and twelve variations, has three major parts – fast and emphatic outer sections and a central slow section that is more lyrical and mysterious in expression. The densely concentrated theme contains thematic fragments that are thinned out and ‘examined’ as the variations progress. As the title Duo Variations suggests, the work has contrapuntal textures with an independent and demanding piano part. The idea was to create an equal duo ensemble rather than any impression of soloist and accompaniment.
© Andrew Schultz, 1990