Thanks for taking a look and listen to this. It's very much still in progress (though it has been so for quite some time now), and the score has a lot of cosmetic issues I'm working out. 


MP3 (midi mockup):


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  • Hi Stephen,

    I bet you're a good pianist, you must write a piano concerto one day ...oh hang on I think you just have :-)

    So much invention in the writing, almost too much at times, but some of the music is very lovely to my ears. At a cursory glance, I can see you have excellent knowledge of string technique. I wont comment on the music as such because it's yours, not mine. The bits I like put me in mind of Shostakovitch and a lesser known composer in England, but no less talented, Robert Simpson, whom you may know - he also has a highly developed chromatic style.

    What I would offer as a suggestion would be to give the players some more rests.  For me it is too full on some of the time with too many notes and would perhaps benefit from a little repose and a bit more lightening of the texture - just a thought though, you may well feel differently.


  • Mike, 

    Thanks so much for looking and listening to this, and for your feedback. I agree that the next step in this piece needs to be a radical note reduction campaign, and even some whole sections of music may have to be cut out and resurrected in another piece. There's still a lot of fat to be cut, but I get so emotionally attached to my notes that I can't bring myself to cut any of them out, which causes me to be a very indecisive editor.  

    I used to be a serious pianist, but am a bit rusty now since I have a demanding non-musical career and dedicate most of my musical efforts to composition rather than piano playing; I can still play faster octaves than just about anyone I know though :)

    My wife is a former orchestral violist and orchestra librarian--I used to study over all the string orchestral parts while she organized and marked them up in our living room; that's where basically all my knowledge of string writing comes from. 

    It's interesting that you recommend I write a piano concerto. I actually have a back-burner piano concerto in the works; it's for a very small orchestra with a bit of an asymmetrical wind section, and is a bit Bartok-derivative, but I think it has some potential to blossom into a good piece one day.

  • Hi Stephen,

    Did you ever play Chopins' 5th Etude Op10? Just wondering how fast you might have played the last bars!

    I love the Bartok concertos, but my God they are fiendish, did you get to that standard of playing? I play myself, but never attained what I might have been capable of because I spent more time studying compositional technique. Favourite piece I nearly almost got up to speed with was Schumanns' Symphonic Etudes. 

  • Hi Mike. 

    Yes, I played the black key etude for the first time in the 8th grade (quite slowly); I resurrected it again after college and worked it up to about 126 in the practice room, but played the octaves at the end at about 108-112. Whenever I knew in advance that I'd be playing it on a very light-action piano, though, I just played the octaves as double octave glissandos, which usually made other pianists die laughing (needed to know about the light action in advance though--prepared by putting small bandages on pinky and thumb joints to protect skin during the slides). 

    I played the Bartok 3rd concerto during my freshman year of college but never performed it. It's definitely the least difficult of the 3, but still extremely tricky, especially in places that don't even sound hard, like the recap's presentation of the opening theme of the first movement (most treacherous double-note passage I've ever encountered in the repertoire with the exception of Ondine and Feux Follets). 

  • Never played an 8va gliss, do you strengthen the 5th fingers with the 4th and 3rd ?

    Love the 2nd mvt in Belas' 3rd, actually I love all of his concertos!  I have to ask if you ever did Rach 3 ? although I'm impressed already. I can play the opening 27 bars Ha. Seriously though, even that opening is difficult in a way.    

    Feux Follets...well now you're just showing off Stephen :-)

  • Hi. No, I just do octave glisses with 1-5, but I flatten my fingers and slide on the joint between the last two phalanges of each finger (I have kind of an unusually firm joint in my pinky which makes this naturally easier for me than it is for most; it's my single athletic gift, but there aren't very many opportunities to use it--basically the only times it comes up are in the Waldstein sonata finale, the 13th Variation of Brahms Paganini Book I, and in my rendition of the Black Key Etude).  

    I have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with the Rach 3. Yes, I've learned the notes, but no I can't really play it. I basically learned it behind my teacher's back in high school, and ingrained lots of bad habits. When I got to the level where I should have been able to play it (during the summer between college and grad school), I tried to resurrect it, but found that so many bad habits and wrong notes were hardwired in that I just needed to focus my efforts elsewhere instead. 

  • I never said I could ever play it anywhere close to the real tempo :)

    Mike Hewer said:

    Feux Follets...well now you're just showing off Stephen :-)

    Piano Quartet (work in progress)--interested in thoughts, notes for improvement, etc
    Thanks for taking a look and listen to this. It's very much still in progress (though it has been so for quite some time now), and the score has a lo…
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