Homage to Chopin (solo piano)
by Michael Hannan (1990)
From the CD First light
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Library shelf no. CD 492 [Available for loan]
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Homage to Chopin is a three-movement work which explores
some of the stylistic characteristics of Chopin. There is an
element of pastiche, a hint of parody, and also an attempt to
incorporate subtly some harmonic elements which are derived from
jazz harmony. Each movement is modelled on or influenced by a
specific Chopin piece or selection of pieces. The first movement
is influenced by the Berceuse in its decorative
right-hand figurations and also to some extent by the harmonic structure of the Nocturne in D flat Op 27 No.2. This movement also contains a hint of Rachmaninoff, particularly in the way the climax is constructed. From a compositional technique point of view, I was interested in this movement to explore the idea of generating most of the thematic material from the first four tones of the opening melody.
Movement II is based on the textural idea of the Prelude Op 28 No. 4: i.e., repeated and gradually chromatically-changing left-hand chords accompanying a single line right hand melody. The movement began as a composition craft exercise. I was trying to create chromatic harmonic effects using limited tonal means. The movement is constructed using only the six-tone scale [E flat, F, A flat, B flat, C flat, D], except for a three-bar enharmonically contrasting section where the E flat is replaced with an E natural.
Movement III was inspired by my love of Chopin's Mazurkas, and refers particularly to Op. 17 No. 4, Op. 63 No. 2 and Op. 68 No. 4. In an attempt to unify the work, I have used the same four-tone melodic motive from Movement I to derive the thematic material for this movement. Some of the characteristic Chopinesque techniques used are the inner-part chromatic line in the second section, the partial chromatic circle of fifths in the third section, and the drone-based martial idea in the section preceding the da capo.
Homage to Chopin is dedicated to Susan Boardman who used the first movement to create a bizarre dance-piece, Romantic Suggestions, which involved dancing with a man's suit attached to an ironing board.
The complete Homage to Chopin was first performed by Roger Smalley live on ABC Classics FM on 24 September 1997.
Duration: 6 min.
Difficulty: Medium — AMEB Grade 7 - 8
Contents note: 1min., 55 sec., 55 sec., 3 min., 29 sec.
Dedication note: Dedicated to Susan Boardman
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