Pavel Zemek Novák (b.1957) Eight Bronze Fragments (Piano Sonata No.6) (2014)
This work was written in response to a commission by Cyril Humphris, the Renaissance sculpture specialist, to commemorate the superb Bronze Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2012. It consists of eight short pieces, which are played without a break and last around nine minutes. Pavel Zemek Novák has employed the unusual approach of writing separately for the pianist's two hands throughout the work. The right hand expresses the lightness of bronze and the beauty of the material, both in the way it can be shaped (the composer was particularly struck by the ancient Greek Dancing Satyr in the opening room of the exhibition), and in the way it can reflect light. In contrast, the left hand expresses the human labour (the 'heaviness', as the composer puts it) and the flow of time involved in making both the metal and the works of art. Although the pianist's two hands never play simultaneously, they interact increasingly in the course of the work, thus expressing the coming together of the labour and the artefact. The music reflects the composer's recent fascination with unison and consonance, which he has explored in many major works over the last few years.
Cyril Humphris describes how the commission came about:
The exhibition BRONZE organised by David Ekserdjian at the Royal Academy in 2012 was the greatest event of its kind ever staged. David, who is a genius with supernatural powers, assembled in the twinkling of an eye, from the four corners of the universe, masterpiece after masterpiece in bronze, created in different civilisations and ranging in date from several thousand years ago to the present day. For all who saw the exhibition it was an unforgettable experience. On one of the last of many visits to the Royal Academy I was accompanied by Pavel Novák and William Howard, who both shared my enthusiasm. It was then that it occurred to me that a way to commemorate the exhibition (that was soon to be swept away) and to fix it in eternity would be with another work of art, in the form of a piece of music. Pavel 's haunting 'Eight Bronze Fragments' is the echo of voices from worlds that have vanished whose trace is cast in bronze.
Eight Bronze Fragments was commissioned by Cyril Humphris and first performed by William Howard at Leighton House, London on May 14th 2014 .