• Stuart MacRae
  • Piano Quintet (2000)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Hebrides Ensemble

Commissioned by the Hebrides Ensemble with funds made available from the Scottish Arts Council.

  • Str4tpf
  • 16 min

Programme Note

The original idea for the structure of the piece comes from an exhibit in the Musée Matisse in Nice, which I visited a few months before beginning to write. The item in question was a copy of Parsifaé: Chant de Minos, a book of aphorisms by Henri de Motherlant for which Matisse provided illustrations. The book was presented in the form of a number of pictorial ‘variations’ on the written aphorisms. I was also impressed by the sensitive quality of Matisse’s ‘nature morte’ (still life) paintings (the paradoxical translation also appeals to me…) and the wonderful faux-naïf humour in many of his portraits.

Hence the Piano Quintet contains three separate adagios, each a set of variations, the second of which is a ‘nature morte’ focusing on the solo viola. These adagios are interspersed with much shorter scherzo movements, which are genuinely joke-like in intention, designed to lighten the impression of the more serious adagios. These are themselves fractured into short sections, so that each section of scherzo constitutes another variation of the same basic material.

© Stuart MacRae

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