This week I listened to piano music of Copland, Creston, and Zucker with pianist Peter Vinograde. Copland works included: Passacaglia (which I am playing on my proficiency) and Piano Fantasy. Creston works included: Seven Theses, Op. 3 and Metamorphoses, Op. 84. The only Zuckerman piece was On the Edges.
I mainly listened to the two Copland pieces. Both pieces have MANY tempo changes throughout the entire piece. The Piano Fantasy seemed much more atonal than the Passacaglia. It is about a half an hour long and has very harsh, dissonant harmonies with very little melody at all. Many times through the piece the tempo is very free. All of the piece is based on the ten tone row that you hear easily at the beginning of the piece. This piece and the Passacaglia are obvoiusly very virtuostic and very difficult to play. The Piano Fantasy alike the Passacaglia is very contrasting in rhythm, dynamics and the overall mood of sections. Copland wrote The Piano Fantasy between 1955 and 1957 which was much later than the Passacaglia (1921-22).
The Passacaglia was dedicated to Mlle Boulanger during his first two years of study with her. The main theme of the Passacaglia is introduced in the beginning in the bass as expected, with no other harmonies, only played in octaves with both hands. Then the left hand plays the theme about 3 or 4 more times, but with the right hand doing other things. After that there are about three lines of simple descending arpeggios that move right back into the same theme in the left hand, but this time the right hand has two different melodies or voices going on at the same time. After this there is a great tempo change and a new melody/theme played. After this section the main theme is altered very much, but definately brought back, switching between hands. The end (or last 2 1/2 pages) is constantly building, with bigger chords and the tempo constantly increasing. In this ending section the melody is still going on but in an amazing way. For the last page and a half it goes into 3 staves, with the left hang playing both the bottom two. The main theme is still going on in the middle staff, with big chords and octaves going on in the right hand and the other part of the left hand. This is my favorite part and also the hardest part to play of the entire piece. The very end of the piece is a constant build up of octaves going all the way up the piano with an accelerando all the way to the last 3 big G# minor chords.
The Passacaglia is an amazing piano piece and is one piece that has really changed my mind about 20th century music.
I felt that Peter Vinograde did an excellent job with all of these pieces, however, I disagreed with a few things that he did in the Passacaglia (only because I have been working on this piece constantly with May Phang).