In these three characterful and testing piano studies, composed in the autumn of 1985, Nicholas Maw sought to bypass many of the characteristics of post-war piano writing and take up where the ‘old’ pianism left off. Over their 25-minute span, they take the instrument as a kind of solo drawing room orchestra put at the disposal of a virtuoso player, and were written with the physical characteristics of playing the instrument very much in mind; the act of touch, how the hands move on the keyboard, the shape and feel of a chord or note-cluster under the fingers, the archetypes of keyboard accompaniment figures, the control of a legato line – what Maw described as ‘the metamorphosis of song’.
‘Never seemingly anachronistic or reactionary, the pieces caress, ravish, astound and seriously engage the ear.’
The Financial Times (Paul Driver), 10 June 1986
‘This is virtuoso music in weight as much as technique.’
The Times (Paul Grifiths), 9 June 1986