• John McCabe
  • Intermezzi for Piano (1968)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Shrewsbury Schools Music Festival

  • piano
  • 8 min

Programme Note

This work was commissioned by Priory Boys’ School Music Society, Shrewsbury, for the 1968 Shropshire Schools’ Music Festival, and was first performed in the school by David Wilde.

The five movements are linked by the opening fanfare-like passage, which appears again during the course of the piece, and from which many of the themes derive. The sections are:
1. Andantino: based mainly on a theme of swaying chords with a brief after - phrase acting as a refrain.
2. Con moto: short and rather sad, with bars of differing length.
3. Allegro: rather agitated in mood. The two main tunes are heard at first separately, in different hands, and combined at the end. There is a more rhythmic middle section.
4. Maestoso: basically, this is a gradual diminuendo, with the opening and closing passages framing a central section founded on a chorale-like theme.
5. Allegro: this final toccata is in a sense the reverse of the previous piece, in that it starts quietly and gradually builds to a fortissimo. After a diminuendo, there is a brief reference to the opening fanfare, and a short brillante ending.

Each section presents problems of musicianship (e.g. phrasing and pedalling, the latter being technically the most difficult); all require considerable rhythmic control.

© Copyright 1968 by John McCabe