Nigel Keay - Variations for Piano (1985)
Performed by Terence Dennis. Recorded in 1986.
This single movement work is written using a darker, harmonic language. It is an abstract work that is constructed in an arch form with a brooding opening and closing and a rhythmically active central section.
First Performance (with review)
Variations for Piano was first publicly performed by Terence Dennis, who had previously also recorded it for national broadcast by Radio NZ. This work was awarded the Philip Neill Memorial Prize in Music in 1985 by the University of Otago, New Zealand.
Nigel Keay's Variations for Piano premiered by Terence Dennis at the University of Otago. Reviewed by Peter V. Adams.
Otago University's Music Department lunch hour concerts have provided three opportunities this year to hear the music of Mozart Fellow Nigel Keay. Two works have been premiered, the latest being his Variations for Piano (performed on July 7), which won the 1985 Philip Neill Memorial Prize. With such a brilliant, highly charged and sympathetic performance given by Terence Dennis, the listener was able to confront the composer's musical intention directly and confidently. This was no under-rehearsed student performance. As with the Piano Quartet (1986) and String Quartet (1983), which were both performed in the first term, the Variations for Piano is carefully constructed with crystalline clarity. Indeed, the rigorous logic of Keay's music, with its string motivic working in a free atonal language, is a stylistic feature.
Terence Dennis is widely regarded as one of New Zealand's finest musicians, and has an international reputation as a highly-sought accompanist. His performances throughout New Zealand and overseas have received high acclaim, and he regularly partners leading resident musicians and distinguished visiting artists in recital and recordings (German cellist Maria Kliegel, American violinist Ian Swenson, American soprano Alessandra Marc, American mezzo-soprano Kathleen Kuhlmann, Scottish soprano Margaret Marshall, British mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker, and the German baritone Eike Wilm Schulte.)
Terence Dennis is the William Evans Executant Professor in Piano at the Department of Music, University of Otago, New Zealand. He has taught in masterclasses in Australia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan and since 1991 he has been the official pianist for the finals of the Mobil Song Quest.
Many of Terence's students have achieved high success in tertiary training in New Zealand and abroad, and have been prizewinners in all the national piano competitions.