Piani, Latebre
Piani, Latebre (layers, hiding-places) is a set of three diverse pieces for solo piano. Their order is chosen by the pianist; they are preceded by an introductory flourish presenting a tiny preview of their core material. The title began as a feeble pun on ‘piano’ the instrument (pianoforte) and the Italian word piano, denoting layers or storeys, since the piano offers the ultimate in ‘stacked’ or layered textures; to this was then added latebra, hiding-place, for this music is not just concerned with voicing of simultaneous layers but with the search for hidden corners - expressive places - lurking in the familiar sound-world of the piano.

The work is built upon three archetypal materials of the piano keyboard: the tremolo (rapid alternation of two notes or chords), the scalic flourish up or down the keyboard and a striding idea in melody-and-bass. Each piece combines two of these three building materials, so that each occurs in two pieces. My pianistic concern throughout is with the relative weight, or ‘voicing’, of different elements in the texture. The three pieces have clearly distinguished characters, and rely much on the expressive resource offered by the piano’s different registers. Their differences of character offer alternative dramatic sequences depending on the ordering; this dramatic choice of running order is, as in other of my works, left to the performer.

Piani, Latebre was commissioned by William Howard with funds generously provided by Landmark Chambers, and was premiered by him in Shoreditch Church, London, as part of the 2010 Spitalfields Festival. It is dedicated to Neil and Matilda King.

c Piers Hellawell 2010