"After-Pieces - The Amorous Sphinx"
An "Afterpiece" was a short supplementary entertainment performed after full-length plays in 18th-century England. As used here, the title implies that inchoate sense of "coming after" that informs many of my works, including "Epilogue" (1973), "Aprèslude" (1977), and "Apostille" (1994).
My four "After-Pieces" were composed in 1989-1990, exactly twenty years after my first piano cycle, the "Orphic Pieces".
In No 1, "By the clear dark fountain", a distorted fragment of the French folksong 'A la claire fontaine' (a childhood memory) is blow up out of all proportion.
"The Amorous Sphinx" explores the sphinx of the Schummanesque variety: an encoded name yields a refurrent seven-note figure. The ecstatic central section provides harmonic material for the two subsequent pieces.
The title "Passades" - subsequently lent to Roger Doyle - comes from dressage: a "passade" is the act of moving back and forth over the same ground. Of course, it can also refer to an adulterous adventure...
No 4, "The Sphinx Unleashed", is a savage toccata with echoes of Prokofiev.