• John McCabe
  • Concertante Variations on a Theme of Nicholas Maw (1970)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • str(
  • 11 solo str(
  • 18 min

Programme Note

The material for this work is derived from a page in Nicholas Maw's song-cycle for voice and piano, THE VOICE OF LOVE. Two main elements from this page form the basis of my music, a rich series of chords and two intensely-shaped melodic phrases. The use of the word CONCERTANTE in the title indicates the contrast between solo writing and orchestral texture; this is more a fantasia-like piece in several sections than a straightforward series of variations, for Maw's music is never quoted directly as it stands in his own work. The first part, MODERATO, gradually unfolds some of the chordal themes, while the second, an ALLEGRO MARCATO OF SCHERZANDO character, derives from segments of the melodic elements. In the following LENTO, harmonic and melodic ideas are contrasted, and this feeling is retained through an even slower variation (LARGO). With the next ALLEGRO LEGGIERO, there is a change to a lighter style, and this in turn is followed by an ANDANTE which is dominated by the lyrical aspect of the basic ideas. The final two sections are an extensive and more aggressive ALLEGRO DECISO, which encompasses several variations, and finally a MAESTOSO which refers initially to the very opening of the work and, after a slowly-built climax, takes the music down to a quiet, reflective close.