Variation 21

op. 80, 2019 rev. 2022

For Orchestra
Instrumentation: –, Timpani, 2 Percussion, Strings
Duration: 6 min.

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

World premiere at Mai 8th, 2022, Konzerthalle, Joseph-Keilberth-Saal, Bamberg, Germany

Orchestra: Bamberger Symphoniker

Conductor: Cristian Măcelaru

Publisher: Universal Edition


Composer’s notes

Variation 21 is commissioned by the Bamberger Symphoniker for their »encore!«-project. The piece was originally planned to be performed after Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, but this turned out differently. Nevertheless, the idea of variation as a musical form occupied me. Above all, I asked myself whether a variation could exist without a predetermined theme and whether the theme could also be the variation in a composition. With Variation 21, I wanted to thematize the leap into the 21st century.

Rhythm, as well melody, plays a very important role for me. The percussion part is one of the most important in Variation 21. Sometimes the three players sound as if they were a solo part together – like a sound event – and sometimes they are the basis for the rhythm of the other groups. The mixture of percussion timbres is complementary and necessary to the overall orchestral sound.

The composition presents its three themes itself and then varies them throughout. The first eight bars are like an overture to the rest of the piece. The two themes appear in direct succession and become increasingly dense and tense rhythmically. A theme in 6/8 time, performed only by percussion, opens a dramaturgical aspect, and the theme in 7/8 time consists of repetitive melodic fragments performed by all the orchestra. These two themes are varied and continually brought together, accompanied by dense changes of meter and instrumental groups. In the middle of the piece, a calm mood is created with the third theme, only to build up again the powerful percussion rhythms. The latter lead Variation 21 to an energetic fortissimo ending.

Photo: Norbert Banik