• Betsy Jolas
  • Stances (1978)

  • Heugel (World)
  • 3(pic).2.2+bcl.2+cbn4.2.2.13perc.snare drumhp.pf.celstr(14.12.10.8.6.)
  • Piano
  • 22 min

Programme Note

In spite of this rather literary title, Stances is in fact just another piano concerto, but composed at a time when that name was still not quite in favor . Written for my friend, the great pianist ClaudeHelffer, the solo part requires both lyricism and virtuosity . Its relation to the orchestra varies constantly: the piano can lead or just listen and observe .

The work is conceived in three connected movements , through which circulates a kind of principal theme based on the note G, which has since become the center pitch of all my keyboard works.

One can also trace throughout Stances, fairly clear hints of familiar piano masterpieces that I had tried to play and loved years ago . For instance Chopin's Etude op 25 no1, which clearly marks my transition to the second movement : a kind of scherzo bringing the piano to a fairly long pause. Things will then start to gradually disintegrate till finally the principal theme reappears, but as heard dimly "under water" .. This is followed by a new transition, the piano creeping back dreamily with repeated notes, in a ghostly evocation of the famous " drop of water" prelude as an introduction to the third movement : a dramatic recitativo accompagnato featuring piano and orchestra in tight dialog.

Stances was premiered in Paris at Radio France in 1978 with Claude Helffer as soloist and the
Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique under Marius Constant.