Four Quiet Preludes

for solo piano (1994)

Duration: ca 10 minutes

Four Quiet Preludes, for solo piano, is

perhaps the most extreme or minimal of

all my compositions, in regard to both the

musical material and to the very slow,

meditative unfolding of this material.

These four pieces (played without a

pause) were, for me, a kind of personal

meditation on certain harmonic

structures that I have explored in nearly

all of my work, from the early 1980s until

today. I tried to find a system in which I

could incorporate both tonal and atonal

harmonic material simultaneously. I

wanted to create a flexible musical

language that could embrace both of

these facets of music at the same time,

without having to give up one for the

other. As such, Four Quiet Preludes became

a kind of personal Harmonielehre, for a

harmonic soundworld that can be heard,

with the exception of Night Rain and Grey

and White, in all of the other works on this

recording. The compositional idea for Four

Quiet Preludes also evolved from an

interest in exploring the way a single

musical idea could suggest a larger idea

or form, similar to the manner in which a

Haiku, for example, can express a much

larger idea with a few carefully chosen

words. Each of the four pieces quietly

explores the essence of only one or two

melodic or harmonic ideas. Another

important element of the work is the

resonance of the piano itself. The piano’s

sustain pedal is held down throughout,

creating a kind of continuous ‘harmonic

shadow,’ and the resonance of the various

harmonies can be heard long after they

are played, interacting with new material.