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Written at Waikanae beach, Variation was inspired by the natural environment. Rapidly evolving, elaborate patterns are a feature of the work. Chromatic textures reflect wind and surf, swirling, then pause for breath before hurtling off again, intentionally avoiding metered structures. Harris has always viewed the work as a 'New Zealand piece', although commentators from the period labelled it as belonging to the European art music tradition. The artist's response: "I was thinking about New Zealand things. Sea, wind".
David Guerin gave the first performance of 'Variation' in 1982, but the technical challenges of the work have meant that it has seen few performances since.
Performed by Thomas Hecht