Variations for Piano and Strings (sextet version)
by Bruce Stark

for piano soloist and string quintet
(2 violins, viola, cello, contrabass)
(about 13 minutes)

adopted by the composer from the original version for piano and string orchestra

VIRTUAL DEMO (software playback): 


Variations for Piano and Strings was written during the early months of 2019 in Redmond, Washington. It is a through-composed piece in which a theme--first introduced partially by the piano then in its complete form by strings--provides material for a series of variations. Strings and piano produce sounds that are among my cherished favorites, so I wanted to create a piece that features the piano as soloist but also features the strings, utilizing the many sounds both are capable of in ways that mutually enhance their expressive capabilities. I prepared this sextet version so the music could be performed in a chamber setting as well; the conversational nature of many passages (between piano and strings) lends itself well to small ensemble music making.

As the piece unfolds, three distinct themes come into focus: 1) the initial melody, 2) a broad theme derived from its inversion, and 3) a rhythmically altered version that explores fragments of parallel modes (ionian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian), presented in meters of 7, 6 and 5--a kind of rhythmic forshortening with each iteration. The work culminates with references to all three in an energetic finale.

(product will be available for purchase later this year—please contact Bruce Stark with any questions)