Variations for Piano

For piano
Commissioned by Earplay
October, 13th 1988
Wyatt Pavilion, University of California in Davis
Karen Rosenak
Catalog Number
  • Program Notes

    My Piano Variations is a set of eight variations on an original theme. The theme itself is cast as a moderately long, two-part rounded form, and ends with three sets of reiterated chords which are used at times as cadential material, and at other times to make a transition, preparing or anticipating the succeeding variation. The fourth variation - in a poignant and contemplative mood, played una corda - provides a centerpiece, the other variations deployed symetrically around it, with lighter, dance-like variations preceding, and more turbulent ones following. The turbulence reaches a climactic moment, leading to a final, incomplete variation reminiscent of the opening. Considered another way, the variations group themselves together harmonically and rhetorically into a sonata-like structure: the theme and first variation are expository in meaning and character; variations 2, 3 and 4 are developmental; and variation 5 returns to the original tonal area dominated by D and Ab, with a richly figured variation on the opening theme.

    Theme 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

    Ab Ab D C Bb Ab

    D D Ab F# E D

    Exposition Development Return


  • Piano and Keyboard Variations

    Variations for Piano… is a challenging and rewarding piece for pianists with nimble fingers and agile imaginations… Festinger proceeds with a feeling of spontaneity… a panorama of moods, styles, shapes, figurations… underlying rhythmic play coupled with a vocal feeling for long line lends these variations an attractive point of fascination.”

  • Journal of the Society for American Music Bridge CD

    "The result is magical, one of those special moments in contemporary composition where the sound itself supersedes syntax and the music transcends any semantic aspirations we may have for it. In sum, this CD presents an enjoyable program of intellectually and viscerally compelling music that spans much of the career of a living American composer who deserves to be better known."

    – Josh Levine
  • Karen Moorman, Classical Voice of North Carolina, 6/11/08

    “Move over Haydn! Richard Festinger, composer and distinguished Professor of Music Composition at San Francisco State University, presents a recording of five chamber works… featuring the Naumburg award-winning New Millennium Ensemble … [Festinger] approaches composition with the intellectual curiosity of an academic, the heart of a romantic, and the depth of one totally immersed in the art… is neatly structured and rich in counterpoint and rhythmic intricacy… [Variations for Piano] culls the intricacy of Liszt's Les Préludes and the spaciousness of Webern's piano works… perfectly executed, well-crafted music…. Construction en metal et bois for piano and percussion pushes the boundaries of chamber music… Here Festinger gives us his best and the demanding challenges are met with equal passion. Margaret Kampmeier and John Ferrari, like two fighter pilots, perform at lightning speed and with the intensity of a tarantella…. Festinger's music, like a Mark Rothko painting, is beautiful, even on the surface. And discovering what's beneath makes it rewarding.”

    – Karen Moorman