• John McCabe
  • Evening Harmonies (Study No 7: Hommage à Dukas) (2000)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Scottish International Piano Competition as a test piece for 2001

  • piano
  • 8 min

Programme Note

Evening Harmonies was commissioned by the Scottish International Piano competition as the test piece for their 2001 Competition, and is the seventh in a series of concert pieces given the generic sub-title of Studies - these are not studies in the tradition of Chopin, Debussy or Ligeti, but rather substantial separate works, ranging from 7 minutes to 14 in length, and exploring various aspects of pianistic or compositional technique. In this case, the music particularly exploits several kinds of pianistic sensibility, and pays tribute to two composers whose work means a great deal to me.

One is Liszt, obviously - the title comes from one of the finest of his Études d'exécution transcendante, the lovely Harmonies du Soir, from which I have borrowed a couple of musical gestures and one tempo marking (as well as the overall shape, though worked out very differently). The other is Dukas, hence the acknowledgement in the subtitle - in particular, his beautiful Prélude élégiaque for piano, his Poème dansé for orchestra, La Péri, and perhaps above all his masterly opera Ariane et Barbebleu, are a constant source of inspiration.

John McCabe