Ten Erratic Miniatures

for oboe and piano
July-August 2013; 11′

Premiere: Giacomo Pozzuto (oboe) & Mark Hutchinson (piano), University of York recital, 26th September 2013

Written for and dedicated to Giacomo Pozzuto and Dr Mark Hutchinson.

1. Adrenaline butterflies
2. Dry mouth
3. Sinking feeling, sweaty palms
4. Blushing (waiting game 1)
5. Bursts of panic or whining
6. Quavering voice (waiting game 2)
7. Extrication
8. a. Self-comment
8. b. Acquittal
9. Bounce-back
10. Irritability (with waiting game 3)

These miniatures are inspired by performance anxiety (and a chapter of that name by Glenn D. Wilson and David Roland in The Developing Musician). Performed attacca, they explore various emotional states and physical ailments a performer may suffer from while making a public address of sorts.

While the harmonic language is founded on Britten’s, the piece is informed more by the cynical mood of his Temporal Variations (1936), particularly its distorted dance forms (‘Waltz’, ‘Polka’), with their subversions of patterns that defeat expectations, and its political undertones (‘March’, ‘Exercises’, ‘Commination’) which perhaps do not warrant a ‘Resolution’, suggesting instead an acutely vexed despondency.