Nightmare Fantasies (On Hearing that Solfeggietto by C.P.E. Bach One Time Too Many)

Nightmare Fantasies (On Hearing that Solfeggietto by C.P.E. Bach One Time Too Many)

Nightmare Fantasies (On Hearing that Solfeggietto by C.P.E. Bach One Time Too Many)


for piano

©2010
Length: 5'

Program Notes

My colleague, pianist Dror Biran, approached me with an intriguing request: he was asking composers he knew to write pieces for a performing/recording project he had in progress. Each composer would write a short fantasia, which would be based on an earlier piece of music of the composer's choice. I immediately accepted and, after looking at a lot of possible source materials, finally settled on the famous Solfeggietto in C Minor by C.P.E. Bach.

Almost anyone who studies the piano eventually plays this little toccata. It's one of those flashy pieces that isn't nearly as hard to play as it sounds. It's also short and pretty easy to memorize, making it very attractive for the young pianist who has achieved a certain level of technique. While certainly not a bad piece, the Solfeggietto does suffer from overexposure and from too many piano students trying to play it way too fast and dropping way too many notes (I shudder to think of how I zipped through it as a kid, paying little attention to anything except velocity, certainly not to inconsequential matters like phrasing). There are an astonishing number of versions of it on Youtube demonstrating this very phenomenon.

This misreading of C.P.E Bach's popular recital number follows the original structure fairly closely, while adding my own feverish embellishments.

The title is proffered with apologies to Elliott Carter, whose wonderful Night Fantasies for piano is a very different sort of piece altogether.

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