Program notes

Sea-change for piano, opus 32 (1987)

It is hard to say the sea excites the imagination, without sounding clichéd. Yet its constant regeneration, its power,  its myriad shapes, and its dramatic changes of colour are for me, overwhelming. As Shakespeare knew, the sea is also a metaphor for life.

Full Fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are corals made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him doth remain that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange
Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them, – ding, dong bell

The Tempest, Act I, Sc. ii

Sea-change has a simple shape of two peaks and a calm, but not settled, end. The piece is constructed from an initial impetus consisting of three slowly rotating harmonic sequences of different duration – one in the left hand and one in the right hand (both played in bell-like chords) and the third sequence moving through the piano’s mid-range as arpeggios. These sequences of harmony revolve around each other eventually enmeshing and evolving at key points in the work. Sea-change was commissioned by Bernard Lanskey in 1987 with financial assistance from the Music Board of the Australia Council.

© Andrew Schultz,1987