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My first experiences of the soundworlds of Mahler's late orchestral works revealed to me the vast distances over which late romantic harmonic language can transport the listener. I was instantly taken by the immense power generated by Mahler's continual re-casting of the opening melodies of the Ninth (last movement) and Tenth (first movement) Symphonies, in subtlely or radically new harmonic and orchestrational contexts. One waits in expectation of the return of the opening and, no matter whether it's the first or the fiftieth hearing, is stunned by the genius of the new twist applied.
Aufsatz (German for "essay") is my attempt at capturing - in some very small way - the gist of Mahler's regenerative methods. The piece is a lopsided sonata form, where an angular development is followed by a vastly expanded recapitulation, which culminates in a perpetual re-spinning of the opening material, cut short by a brief and optimistic coda.
Aufsatz is dedicated to my piano teacher from an early age, Margaret Carryer. Aufsatz was read by the NZSO in November 2003, and recorded for broadcast in 2006. Hamish McKeich conducted on both occasions.
For Margaret Carryer