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FIVE MAZURKAS

Date: 2016
Duration: 11 minutes
Instrumentation: Piano solo


The title of this collection should in reality require quotation marks since these "mazurkas" stand significantly removed from the Polish mazur tradition to which they refer. To be sure, each of these pieces bears some of the basic defining metric and rhythmic elements of the dance form. Yet they are concert pieces that allude more to the mazurkas of Chopin, pieces that also in a very real sense require quotation marks. I set out to compose "true" mazurka knowing full well that the final results would likely fail to resemble even those mazurkas removed from the authentic variety, especially given the disparity between my personal stylistic propensities and the music characteristics found in these mazurka traditions — their dance metric patterns, occasional ornamented frilliness, periodic phrase structures, and tonal–modal scale formations. I find that the combination and juxtaposition of seemingly incompatible elements often produce the most interesting results.
The opening half–step motive of the first "Animato Mazurka" explicitly resembles that of Chopin’s op.41, no.2 mazurka in B major, whose "animato" tempo marking provides the subtitle. The short second mazurka is a quodlibet that intertwines what are perhaps my two most favorite Lutheran chorale tunes: Ahasverus Fritsch’s "O Gott, du frommer Gott" and Severus Gastorius’s "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan." The manner in which the tunes are embedded within a staccatissimo texture make their audibility inconspicuous apart from infrequent windows through which chorale fragments are laid bare. The third mazurka contains an angular three-voice canon set above a placid left hand ostinato. The fourth mazurka is a rather odd piece, its "fractured" rhythmic features removing it furthest from the traditional mazurka dance patterns. Fractured also is its structure — a disjointed ABABA form with abrupt segues between sections. The final mazurka directly refers to, and even quotes, the middle section of Chopin’s op.68, no.3. The subtitle "oberek" refers to a fast–tempo variety of mazurka.

Performances

—Awaiting first performance. Be the first!