TWAALF ETUDES OP EEN THEMA VAN J. MULDERS
The genesis of Eleven studies on a theme by J. Mulders spans a period of 35 years. In essence composed in 1983/84 the first version was published in 2004. Rewriting the composition in 2009, the second version saw the light of day in 2010. In 2017 I was pleasantly surprised by a request from the famous Greek pianist Theodore Tzovanakis (https://tzovanakis.com), who asked me if he might be allowed to perform the work on a tour through Switserland (world première in Geneva) and the Netherlands (Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam). I took the opportunity to thoroughly work through the score once more, which resulted in this third version, which, we may assume, is the final one. With two etudes (number III and VIII from the second version) I was not that happy and replaced these with a waltz in A major. This drew me to the idea of restoring the old concept of the first version: to relieve the technically demanding studies twice by an intermezzo of melodic character. However, in contrast to the first version, these intermezzi are also variations on the theme, respectively in the character of an elegiac sarabande and a charming waltz. In connection with this, the order of the slightly revised studies has been somewhat modified. The variation technique employed is that of the ‘character variation’, whereby in general the number of bars, the phraseology and the harmonic functions remain essentially intact. This applies especially to the peripheral studies. Those at the heart of the composition deviate more from the ground-plan, in terms of key, structure and harmony.
This final version of the work is, of course, gratefully dedicated to Theodore Tzovanakis.
Style: romantic, modal.
Level of difficulty: Grade VIII-XI (on a scale of XII grades)
Theme – Andante
Etude I – Un poco più mosso
Etude II – Alla Siciliano
Etude III – Allegro non troppo, ma burlesco
Etude IV – Sarabanda elegica (Intermezzo I)
Etude V – Allegro appassionata e agitato
Etude VI – Andante quieto e espressivo
Etude VII – Andantino
Etude VIII – Valse charmante (Intermezzo II)
Etude IX – Maestoso, non troppo lento
Etude X – Tranquillo e armonioso
Etude XI – Presto furioso
Theme – Come prima
“In terms of its form the work is somewhat reminiscent of Schumann’s Etudes Symphoniques, even though Brussee has decided against a grand Finale, instead allowing the theme to return in all its simplicity, as a subdued “Das war einmal…”. This theme, described by Brussee as ‘inherently Dutch, tough and plain’, reminds me, with its balanced modal character, a little of the language of César Franck. Because the harmony and its melodic development remain clearly audible in almost all of the variations, this modality permeates the whole work, lending to it a lightly melancholic, somewhat French atmosphere. The actual variations are technically highly demanding studies in the tradition of Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov. (…) Even though these pieces seem to stem from a particular technical problem, there is here no question of methodological practice pieces, rather of music for which you must simply be a good pianist. This work belongs to the podium! It is naturally curious that in these days a composer is expressing himself in a language of, globally speaking, a century ago. I would not, however, wish to regard this as disadvantageous. Rather, Albert Brussee, as one of the few of today’s pianists, truly strives towards a connection with the great pianists from the beginning of the twentieth century, who were usually much more than just the pure performers who reflect today’s norm. In the light of such comprehensive musicianship he takes the definitive step by actually composing in the style that, as pianist, lies so close to his heart. Anyone regarding this as an anachronism would in fact need to censure the playing of all classical music…..
Bert Mooiman, Piano Bulletin 2011-1. (Translated from the Dutch)
Copyright, availability and price
© 2018 (third version) AB Music Productions and Editions, The Hague.
44 pages; with a preface in Dutch and English.
Available through the usual music channels or via the publisher.
Price: € 19.50.