"In the course of
writing [the Second Piano Sonata] I've
composed some more Preludes: sparks
thrown off as the anvil was struck."
(Patrick Piggott, letter dated 16.4.1980)
These were the initial 'sparks' of the
third set of eight Preludes - now available
in print for the first time - which
eventually completed a statutory twenty-four,
to which Piggott added an elegiac Postlude.
All of Piggott's twenty-five
Preludes are essentially virtuosic studies
in pianoforte technique, the fifth and
sixth of this set being extremely difficult.
But they are more than that might suggest:
with the exception of the fifth, which
owes much to Bartok with its motoric
Bulgarian rhythms - and possibly the
sixth, which moves lightly at a dizzying
pace - each of the others has at its
centre a brief melodic fragment around
which the music is tightly organised.
There are, in the second and seventh
preludes in particular, moments of poignant
beauty: intensity packed into a small
place. While Piggott shares with Lennox
Berkeley something of the influence
of their mutual teacher Nadia Boulanger,
his music is completely individual -
and quite unjustly neglected. There
are links, in this final set of Preludes,
with the preceding two; and the Postlude
has a cortège-like character,
marked at one point come una reminiscenza,
in which earlier conflicts are partly
resolved. This is powerful and inventive
music. The two earlier sets of Preludes
must surely follow ere long? Colin
Note: The Eight Preludes
and a Postlude are included in a
CD recording of Patrick Piggott's piano
music played by Malcolm Binns and released
by the British Music Society: BMS430CD.
article by Colin Scott-Sutherland on
Patrick Piggott's music appears in the
British Music Society’s annual journal
British Music Vol.23 (2001).
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