Three Rhythmics

year: 1986    instrumentation: piano duet    published: Wai-te-ata Music Press
commissioned by: Music Federation of New Zealand (now Chamber Music New Zealand)
recording: on Waiteata Collection of New Zealand Music Vol. 6 - Composer Portrait: Jack Body

At certain times in life one feels the need to do or create something flashy. My Epicycle for string quartet of 1989 is one such piece, and my Three Rhythmics; for piano duet another. But virtuosity comes with a price - the work was rejected by the two pianists for whom it was first written, and has been a cause for complaint by the several duo pianists who have tackled it since. Indeed the style of virtuosity explored here is mechanistic, rather than Lisztian, and perhaps I am justified in presenting here a computer version as a kind of "model"; performance; the last movement is labeled "Nancarrowesque"; and perhaps that is the apt precedent to cite! But the several, albeit imperfect, live performances that I have heard have always been exhilarating; and so, perhaps, its demands do, after all, produce rewards?

The first movement of this piano duet alternates between double handed tremolando and repeated rhythmic cells that change relationship to each other, with some hand-clapping thrown in for good measure. A short interlude begins with a free, parlando style that gradually transforms itself into a metrical rhythm. The last movement pits the two performers against each other in an unstoppable flood of sound.

Three Rhythmics, commissioned by the Music Federation of New Zealand (now Chamber Music New Zealand), was premiered by Diane Cooper and Dan Poynton.

click here for Three Rhythmics at SOUNZ