For: Solo instrument (Piano)
page one of mercury

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Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
7 minutes
Modern classical music
License details
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(these notes appear on page 12)

mercury / notes

This is probably the longest single movement I have ever composed, and certainly the longest for solo piano. It was at a time when I was undertaking to grasp the classic European forms, such as (in this case) "Sonata" and "theme and variation." The piece indeed starts out with a rather typical Sonata exposition, moving into a series of variations on the two themes. The remainder of the piece could be considered "development."

The name "mercury" refers in particular to the transformational passage where one theme "morphs" into the other: in bar 168 the inverted theme I becomes a series of 1/8 notes at bar 190, which turn into theme II at bar 197. The title is also a reference to how the themes are constantly evolving throughout the piece, thinking of the ephemeral, "mercurial" nature of things.

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