Instrumentation: Two pianos,( 6 or 8 hands)
First performance: University of Louvain, Belgium, 12 December 1977.
Out of Zaleski’s Gazebo (1977-78)
This piece, for two pianos 6 or 8 hands, was written for a concert given by myself with John White and Christopher Hobbs in Belgium in December 1977. I subsequently made a version for 8 hands to involve my close colleague and friend Dave Smith in 1978. The piece originates in another work, for piano, tuned percussion, tuba and horn called Poggioli in Zaleski’s Gazebo which I wrote for John White’s first concert of Garden Furniture Music at the AIR Gallery, London earlier in 1977. Poggioli and Zaleski are fictional detectives – from writers T S Stribling and M P Shiel respectively, who represent opposing poles of the detective process. The one blunders from solution to possible solution, while the other is the model of pure ratiocination. (Both, incidentally, are aristocrats.) This two-piano piece contains allusions to the perfumed harmonies of Lord Berners and Siegfried Karg-Elert, with periodic cadences from Percy Grainger breathing diatonic fresh air into the otherwise heady atmosphere. It is played at a relentlessly fast tempo, only slowing down for the gentle coda where, as in White’s SS, there is a final false note.
Out of Zaleski’s Gazebo (1977-8)
Out of Zaleski’s Gazebo, for 2 pianos, 6 or 8 hands, was written at the end of 1977 and is “out of” an earlier chamber piece called Poggioli in Zaleski’s Gazebo in which the characteristics of two different fictional detectives (Count Poggioli and Prince Zaleski) are contrasted. Poggioli solved cases by blundering from one solution to another until he happened on the correct one, while Zaleski was a model of pure ratiocination, never leaving his study, playing an air from Lakmé on the harmonium, fingering an Egyptian scarab, and smoking hashish. The perfumed harmonies associated with him are subject to motoric and obsessive repetition, gradually descending in the first half of the piece, and rapidly ascending in the second half. Periodically short cadences from the music of Percy Grainger force a breath of fresh air into the music. The piece was written at a time when I was working in Composer/Performer ensembles with colleagues such as John White and Chris Hobbs with whom I gave the first performance in Belgium in December 1977.