Two Episodes for Solo Piano

  1. constellation  2. rubric

The piece consists of two strongly contrasting etudes, each focusing intensely on a single idea. The first episode, constellation, looks at varying density, through the articulation and expansion of clusters of notes. In the extreme registers of the piano, this sometimes changes our perception of pitch into pure timbre, and suggests to me, the violence and ecstasy of stellar formations as notes and motifs seem emerge from darkness. The second episode takes as its starting, and reference point, a pure octave, which begins to transform, and recur systematically. This is then imposed on itself, at different rates, pitches and in different registers. The result is an intricate and unusual pattern of self-referential material. In addition to a rubric as a set of governing rules, I also had in mind Josephine Preston Peabody’s strange and exquisite poem, Rubric:

I’ll not believe the dullard dark,
Nor all the winds that weep,
But I shall find the farthest dream
That kisses me, asleep.

Following the rigor and restlessness of the first movement, the second offers a mysterious solace, though still questioning and uncertain.

‘… There is a refreshing vitality and aural acuity in Chris Williams’s Two Episodes. The first, sub-titled Constellation, is a rapid, scintillating moto perpetuo, while the ruminative Rubric, beginning and ending in the bass register, frequently employs minor seconds and, particularly, major sevenths, reminiscent of the Bartók piece of that name from Mikrokosmos. In the central section, the music rises in pitch and intensity, thus making an impressive arc-like structure overall.’ – David Bollard,

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