Program notes

Nocturnes and Variations, for piano, Opus 96 (2015)

  1. 1. Nocturne – Lento
  2. 2. Variations – Sostenuto e misterioso
  3. 3. Nocturne – Liquido (quasi senza misura)

“In unlit places without streetlamps or yelping neon, night is profound and often comes as ease. Relief from looking out for and away from.” [Toni Morrison, Love]

This 15 minute work was completed in early 2014 and was commissioned by my friend, the pianist Stephen Emmerson, to whom the work is also dedicated. The two outer movements are nocturnes and the middle, larger movement is a set of variations. The two nocturnes are muted and atmospheric night pieces that unfold slowly but with more jubilant passages at their centre.

The outer movements frame the larger central variations movement. In all there are 31 variations of four bars each, based on the harmonically ambiguous but simple four bar chordal theme that opens the movement. Each variation draws on the opening material of the theme but also takes up the material of the surrounding variations; hopefully, that achieves a kind of organic flow and dramatic shape in the overall set of variations.

© Andrew Schultz, 2015.