Michael Edwards

St├╝ckchen

Programme Note

Stückchen is a set of five short piano pieces I wrote during the spring and summer of 1995. They range in length from 1:20 to 6:00 and in style from highly compressed and thematically obsessive to expansive, calm, and, perhaps, even soothing. What they demand of the performer is both an accomplished technique with which to effect the pianistic explosives of the faster, more aggressive pieces, as well as a creative and thoroughly musical imagination to conquer the problems posed by a musical semi-vacuum: it is only through extremely sensitive musicianship that the performer is able to sustain life within the stark musical texture of the final piece, whose purely technical demands, it must be said, would hardly exceed the abilities of an average seven-year-old. Success in performance then, relies on the subtle tonal shading and rhythmic placement of the piece's slowly repeated notes. On the other hand, without a considerable ability to rapidly pound the keyboard (as well as a certain joy in doing so), the visceral urgency of the first and fourth pieces will not be adequately expressed. (The second and third pieces are of an altogether different nature, being concerned, as they are, with matters harmonic and contrapuntal respectively.)

Overall, the set represents five rather diverse views of the piano, albeit views we already know from the abundant, perhaps even saturated, corpulent repertoire that exists for the instrument. But this was my brief: to consciously attempt, in these days of digital technology and organised noise, to extract something expressive from (only!) the keyboard and pedals of the piano, without regard for the grail-like search for the new, and without a grand unifying principle with which to bolster my notes and rhythms, which, after all, add up to just five short pieces of music for piano.