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Sonny Chua  (Born 1967)


Episode Two: Dance Dance Dance (Melbourne, Australia 1989)


Gabriel Fauré (1845 - 1924)

Theme and Variations in C # minor, op 73

Fauré constantly struggled against his lack of recognition from the public and various musical establishments; even after turning fifty, he was still thwarted in his career aspirations. It was a great disappointment when his application for the position of music critic for the French newspaper Le Figaro was passed over. The lost summer months spent trying to procure this job had meant that his only regular time for composition, usually done in the countryside, was sacrificed. As a result, only one significant work, the Theme and Variations Op.73, was produced during that summer of 1895. During this time also, the influence of Wagner on composers was particularly strong. Fauré was, however, able to resist this musical monopoly as well as not falling into the trap of composing in the then popular style of Impressionism. Remaining unique, his music can be described as one of "exploration, of endless invention, of spiritual wonderment and harmonic virtuosity", which aptly and beautifully summarises this magnificent piece of work. 

Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)


Valse Romantique

Debussy composed the Valse Romantique in 1890, whilst studying at the Paris Conservatory. During the turn of the twentieth century, Debussy's style of writing was still predominantly in the late romantic style. The Ballade, published later in 1903, is another charming salon piece that is almost totally monothematic. There is a single theme repeated throughout the work in the variation technique. The pianistic layout of the Ballade recalls the early style of Fauré, though there is also a hint of Debussy's great sea music in the section marked "animez peu à peu", with its left hand arpeggios.

Sonny Chua  (Born 1967)


Episode Two: Dance Dance Dance (Melbourne, Australia 1989)


This piece is the second of a set of two entitled "Two Episodes" by Melbourne-based composer Sonny Chua. Written in January 1989 and dedicated to the great Australian piano pedagogue Max Cooke, the score of Dance Dance Dance bears the following caption: "a celebration of movement, a celebration of happiness, a celebration of life." The composer mentions that unlike the first episode (A Study of Time & Colour), Episode Two "leaves the performer with no liberty of time." This work is a quick-paced etude on rhythm with constantly changing metre, repeated chords and octaves requiring brilliance of execution, and huge leaps over the entire keyboard: indeed, a physical and mental tour de force.


Rachmaninoff (1873 - 1943)


Selection of Nine Preludes: 


A major Op.32, No.9


D major Op.23, No.4 


G major Op.32, No.5


G minor Op.23, No.5


E? major Op.23, No.6


C minor Op.23, No.7


C major Op.32, No.1


G? major Op.23, No.10


B? major Op.23, No.2


The oeuvre of Rachmaninoff would be incomplete without his twenty-four preludes. Unlike the preludes by Chopin, which are in one single opus number, Rachmaninoff's were published in three separate ones: 3, 23 and 32. Although these are not as frequently featured in piano recital programmes as his famous Second Piano Sonata or selections of the Etude-Tableaux, as individual pieces of music, the preludes are all gems in their own right and deserve frequent public attention. The nine selected for this programme come from the opuses 23 and 32, both written around the period from 1901 to 1910. During that time, Rachmaninoff was exiled from his beloved Russia, and was frequently depressed and homesick. The preludes were therefore a great vehicle for the composer in delving into his thoughts and emotions, resulting in the honest expression of the depths of feeling, beauty, poetry and heroism.