Commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival

  • Piano
  • 6 min

Programme Note

The title, an anglicized variant of the French 'chaconne' used by both Purcell and Britten, describes the basic idea of the music. An ascending whole-tone scale, with the second degree omitted and beginning on the note D, falls at each repetition of a minor third. The fourth descending transposition therefore brings the 'ground' back to the original pitch, D.

The piece begins slowly, the 'ground' being assembled audibly and gradually. At the first descent of a minor third a second part enters at the original pitch level, so that the 'ground' harmonizes itself. By the time the complete process described begins again, the music has speeded up and is now in a low register. It ascends quickly and breaks into a dance, the 'ground' appearing in various registers. Eventually this arrives at a deep pounding passage which ascends once again and resolves into a slow sustained coda. The piece ends as the 'ground' reaches D in ringing octaves with the notes F sharp and G sharp. The final three pitches are the first three that were heard, but where the opening was tentative the end is now assertive and bright. Chacony lasts about six minutes and dedicated to Leon Fleisher.

Chacony was commissioned by the Aldeburgh Foundation with funds provided by the Arts Council. It was first performed on Monday 20th June 1988 by Leon Fleicher in The Maltings, Snape, as part of the 41st Aldeburgh Festival.

© Robert Saxton 1990




More Info