by Oliver Knussen

Commissioned for Peter Serkin by the 92nd Street Y with funds partly provided by the Mary Flager Cary Charitable fund
First Performance
11.11.89, 92nd Street Y, New York: Peter Serkin

Score 0-571-51223-2 on sale

Programme Notes

Oliver Knussen Variations, Op. 24 Commissioned for Peter Serkin by the 92nd Street Y with funds partly provided by the Mary Flager Cary Charitable fund. My Variations were composed in September – October 1989, partly from sketches made during the previous spring. Although they are concise – the twelve variations play for a little more than six minutes in all – I have tried to integrate some highly contrasted textural and expressive approaches to a very limited amount of raw material (the theme is itself variations on its first six notes) within a three-part dramatic design: an initial group of five character-variations, a central passacaglia enclosing four more variations, and a final set of three, more etude-like variations functioning as coda to the whole. I should like to acknowledge some things which were constantly in mind while composing this piece: the variation of Stravinsky, Copland and Webern, which provided positively intimidating models of richness of design and character in extreme concision; and the artistry and musical intelligence of Peter Serkin, for whom it was commissioned and who was a constant source of encouragement during the composition. My Variations are dedicated affectionately to Peter and Regina Serkin. O.K. 31/10/89

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News & Reviews

'Variations' reviews

'Oliver Knussen's Variations proved a chiming, clangerous exercise in compression, without a wasted note.' Tim Page, Newsday, 13 November 1989 Read more

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