Variations on a Russian Folk Song
This piece for solo piano demonstrates a wide range of techniques utilized in twentieth century composition. The theme is taken from the Finale of Igor Stravinsky's ballet "The Firebird", which itself is based on a Russian folk song. Each subsequent variation focuses on one or more compositional technique.
II. March (chords by thirds, extended triads)
III. Molto grave e expressivo (chromaticism)
IV. L'istesso tempo (ten-tone row)
V. Fast and light (twelve-tone row, secundal harmony)
VI. Much less (minimalism, extended techniques)
VII. Hazy (quartal harmony, modal melody)
VIII. Finale (spectralism)
The order of the variations partly reflects a chronological motion of harmony through the twentieth century, but also demonstrates a building of large-scale tension, releasing that tension, then focusing on the aftermath of that release. The final variation creates a symmetry within the form of the piece, with chords rising into the uppermost register of the piano, just as the piece began.