I finally have a draft to share of a REVISED VERSION of the piece I wrote over the summer and have been tinkering with, on and off, ever since.
The title of the piece is sort of a misnomer as it is neither a fugue, nor a set of formal variations. It is really a polyphonic fantasia on a fugue subject and its countersubject. Fugal texture is only used as a device, and the development is largely non-fugal, though always polyphonic. The “variations” part comes from the fact that there are 5 large-scale sections (after the fugal exposition that opens the piece) that each have their own distinct characters. They’re marked as “variations” in the score, but aren’t true variations of the kind you find in Beethoven, for example. Between the “variations” there are shorter interludes and bridge passages, called “episodes” in the score. The form of the piece was loosely based on Carl Nielsen’s Commotio, but I think it has more of sonata form than the Nielsen does.
When I first presented the piece, one listener complained (and I agreed) that the early parts didn’t have enough variety of expression. I always felt that Variation 4, sort of a “development section” in the sonata form sense, took too direct a path toward its “grand climax”, and the winding down afterward seemed not to really have much of a point. In this version, the development is fleshed out quite a bit more, and the music passes quickly through many contrasting moods. The downside is that the revision lasts a couple of minutes longer than the original, though some of that is due to a slower tempo in the concluding “variation”, which lasts 10 minutes now instead of 9.
(I’m unsure whether the tempo is TOO slow now, though I feel strongly that the original tempo was too fast. I also have some doubts whether the new material - beginning around 10:00 - damages the coherence of the piece as a whole, as at one point the basic theme gets mutated into something almost unrecognizable, which then never occurs again after Variation 4.)
As always, constructive criticism is most welcome.
Sibelius / NotePerformer rendering, broken up into three "spans":
The whole enchilada (25 minutes):