Variation 21

op. 80, 2019

For Orchestra
Instrumentation: (3. Contrabassoon ad libitum) – (ad libitum), Timpani, 2 Percussion, Organ (ad libitum), Strings
Duration: 3 min.

Commissioned by the Bamberger Symphoniker for the »encore!« project

Publisher: Musikproduktion Höflich München, Repertoire & Opera Explorer, Gourzi Edition

Composer’s notes

Variation 21 was composed for the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, as an encore after a performance of Elgar’s Enigma Variations. It is written for the same instrumentation as Elgar’s work. Organ, tuba and contrabassoon can be featured ad libitum, or omitted. In this way, and because there is no further direct link to the Enigma Variations, the piece is also versatile and can be used in other ensembles and contexts. Variation 21 continues the idea of variations, and also engages with the time travelled from the era of Elgar, to the present day.

The work builds its variations on an original theme. The first eight bars, in brass, percussion and organ, are like an overture to the rest of the piece. Then come two themes: the second directly follows the first, with increasingly complex rhythmic figurations. The first theme is in 6/8 time, played only by percussion, timpani and organ. The second theme is in 7/8, and rises out of repeated motifs and melodies in strings and woodwind. The two themes are then combined and varied, with rapid time changes and also changing instrumentation. The piece concludes with strong rhythms in percussion, taken over by the orchestra, in order to end with an energetic fortissimo dynamic.

Photo: Norbert Banik