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Charles-Valentin Alkan—a great publicity shot or what

In addition to the Bernard Rands interview, Network for New Music has also released a podcast about their Diabelli Project, 25 variations on that theme made famous by Beethoven. The variations, ranging from 48″ to 2’44”, were written by Philadelphia composers to celebrate Network’s 25th Anniversary.

Listen to Peter Burwasser interviewing Jan Krzywicki and Linda Reichert here. Linda relates that they asked for variations of no longer than a minute and a half, knowing that they’d get a bunch of plus-two-minute pieces. Oops, mine is 2’07”.

Part of my Diabelli Variation, for solo piano, is featured on the podcast. Jan says that it reminds him of late-Romantic Alkan, and hey, I’ll take it. Except that late Romantic always sounds that you intended to be romantic but you were, you know, late. (The City Paper review is here and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s, here.)

I don’t think I’ve ever heard any Alkan, but I have now looked at his music. It is very, very… very hard. My variation is just… well, I asked Charles Abramovic if there was anything goofy or unidiomatic in the writing (something I always ask performers, and I believe I always do use the word “goofy”). “No,” he said, “it’s just hard.” Then he said, ”Write some more.”

Here’s the premiere:

and here’s the 4-page score:

Diabelli Variation

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