Concerto for Eight Hands Piano Quartet

Program Notes

Polarity: Concerto for Eight Hands Piano Quartet is a dynamic, single-movement work, the first of three versions. Polarity explores conflict and resolution through a blend of traditional and contemporary harmonic languages.

Following a lyrical solo introduction, the pianists alternate as the concerto’s soloists and accompanists, leading one another through a dramatic Agitato. Propelled by the tension between diametrically opposed constructions, the soloists exchange these contrasting characters repeatedly, building to a climax and uniting the opposing forces as the ensemble leads to a decisive conclusion.

The concerto’s underlying structure amplifies these dichotomies through additional contrasts, exploiting and resolving resulting tensions. Octatonic set constructions and mutually exclusive hexatonic poles blend and playing off of one another. These scales interact with more traditional symmetric pitch collections, such as augmented triads and fully diminished seventh chords, binding together the concerto’s many layers of detail.

Detailed contrapuntal and rhythmic interplay weave together these normally opposing languages and structures to give Polarity a single, cohesive harmonic fabric that is a hybrid of functional tonality and fully chromatic twelve-tone architecture.

18 minutes | 2 Pianos, 4 Pianists | 2017
Commissioned: SFOURzando Piano Ensemble, New Haven, Connecticut

Polarity is available in three versions:

  • Concerto for Eight Hands Piano Quartet
  • Concerto for Eight Hands Piano Quartet and Orchestra (18 minutes)
  • Concerto for Solo Piano and Orchestra (18 minutes)


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