2006 MEDEN AGAN for piano

MEDEN AGAN (2006) was written at the request of James Lisney and is dedicated to him. It is in three movements:

  1. Rhetorica
  2. Poetica
  3. Erotica

and has a total duration of approximately 17 minutes.

‘Meden Agan’ was engraved over the entrance to the temple of Apollo in Delphi and means ‘nothing too much’, urging visitors to the oracle to be economical with their expectations and requests. I used it to police my own penchant for exuberance and to concentrate on essentials.

It is my first work for solo piano after more than 20 years, the last one being Gravity’s Dance (1984). The piano however features in several of my recent compositions and this constant revisiting of my favourite instrument has led to a confidence of approach which allowed me to indulge in a wide range of techniques and sonorities that have become second nature from my earliest childhood onward. Add to this the extraordinary relationship I established with James Lisney over the last couple of years since the inception of Anatomy of Passion (2004) for cello and piano, which was written for him and Alexander Baillie. Much of the inspiration for Meden Agan is drawn from passionate feedback and in-depth discussion about piano playing, the repertoire and its interpretation. In fact, the request was a direct result of James’s experience with the piano part in Anatomy and observations he made about it.

The composition in three movements follows a venerable tradition of sectioning a work in alterations of fast, slow and fast. Not to mention serious, introspective and exuberant. The last movement has two different endings. The first glorifies the build up of a climax (Debussy’s Isle Joyeuse may have something to do with it); the second takes an ironic view of climaxing, almost ridiculing its naivity. I left it to the pianist to choose the appropriate course of action in each concert situation.