Three pieces for 2 pianos 8 hands

Three pieces for 2 pianos 8 hands (1982/rev. 2023)

Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture Affairs for the Orgella Quartet.

When I had graduated from the conservatory in Utrecht I was commissioned by the Fund for the Creative Arts to write a composition for two pianos, eight hands. I felt a great need for self-renewal. On the one hand I wanted to rid myself of the remnants of other people’s influences; on the other hand, as far as I was concerned, the big fat bone of dissonance tossed to us at the beginning of the century had been picked clean. This urge for renovation led me towards tonality as an idiom for sound; hereby I emphatically do not mean a regression back to old ideas but a progression past the accomplishments of the twentieth century.

Before starting to compose I thought about the essential characteristics of the piano. The following considerations were useful to me:
* legato playing pretty much disappeared after the impressionist/expressionist period, partly because of the development of the piano as a percussion instrument. Together with the use of the pedal, however, it is a type of playing very idiomatic to the piano. Movements one and three are based on this subject.
* the piano is also an instrument that radiates strength, especially when two are used, with four players. This is the idea behind the second movement.

In all the movements I wished to achieve a complete musical integration of the two pianos. Both instruments therefore produce essentially the same music, but in differing meters. Each movement is limited to two ideas which are interwoven from beginning to end. A total of three tone rows is used: octotonic in movement one and three, enneatonic in movement two. All have a minor character. Each movement consists of twelve phases, every phase in a different “key,” so that by the end of the movement twelve transpositions have been used. Movement one and three are both climactic in structure. I found it interesting to reverse this process in the second movement, beginning with a “climax” and devolving into almost nothing, although here again a development takes place.

While composing I felt a close relationship with the Austrian Romantism. Therefore the original titles are in German:

  1. Die unendlichen Melodien und das Arpeggio
  1. Die groszartigen Zusammenklänge mit den sich wiederholenden Noten
  1. Die unendlichen Melodien und die Legato-Bewegungen