Never Odd or Even

Buy the Minimal Piano Collection - Volume XVI CD

Length / year

5' - 1995


six pianos

Performance history

London Premiere
Birmingham Symphony Hall
2nd November 1995
Piano Circus

World Premiere
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
13th November 1995
Piano Circus (recorded for subsequent broadcast on BBC Radio 3)

Subsequent Performance
Vale of Glamorgan Festival
Piano Circus

US Premiere
The Piano Mill, Boston
20th March 1998
Boston Musica Viva:
Vytas Hakys, David Hagan, Karen Harvey, Hugh Hinton, David Horne, Margaret Ulmer - pianos

Programme note

'Never Odd or Even' was commissioned by the six piano ensemble Piano Circus in 1995, and first performed at Symphony Hall in Birmingham and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

In writing the piece I wanted to apply the strictest musical procedures to apparently inconsequential material in order to achieve a blend of great rigour and extreme lightness.

As the title implies, 'Never Odd or Even' is a palindrome (something which is the same backwards as it is forwards) or, to put it more accurately, a series of musical palindromes. Pianos 2 & 5 share a chord sequence which contains a clearly audible series of harmonic palindromes. Pianos 1 & 4 have a series of decorative rhythmic palindromes in the upper register of the keyboards. These rhythmic palindromes also operate as strict canons. Finally, 3 & 6 each have a simple legato line in octaves in the lower register, making a single melodic (and rhythmic) palindrome. This palindrome is also heard in canon.

All these palindromes, being of different lengths, are phased so that the material is always heard in new relationships. The title, itself a palindrome (hence the grammatical error), refers both to the predominantly melodious nature of the piece and to the fact that Pianos 2 & 5, who provide the core material for the piece, play always either in straight syncopation or using multiple rhythms - 3 against 2, 4 against 6, 5 against 4, 9 against 8, etc.

Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!