Aria Fantasy  (2013) for piano quartet - 16'
-vln, vla, vcl, pno
-Commissioned by Ravinia's Steans Institute
-Premiered Chicago, IL July 2013

Program Notes

Ludwig writes, “Aria Fantasy” draws its inspiration from the opening (and closing) aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations; though it does not sound like Bach’s music (with a few notable exceptions). It is a different approach to variations on this variation theme; each section of the aria is transformed and deconstructed throughout to create new patterns and textures of sound. The piece was commissioned by the Ravinia Steans Institute on the occasion of their 25th Anniversary.

“As the story goes, the ‘Goldbergs’ were composed to be played for a royal patron who suffered from insomnia (this is probably not a true account, but facts shouldn’t get in the way of a good story). In this telling, the Goldbergs were pieces written for the wee hours of the night, composed to mollify a restive mind. The imagery of “night music” provides a further backdrop for my piece, which drifts in and out of states of waking dreams. Starry sounds of toy boxes playing distant themes lead to strident and angular piano figurations, which then lead to languid falling scales which in turn lead to fast and irregular crooked dances, which then continue…

“Each section of my Aria Fantasy is inspired by corresponding phrases of the Bach Aria, until all of the previous variations on the Aria’s parts come together in a blurry cloud. As the sound gathers near the end, the central bell-like chord of the piece is loudly rung in the piano twenty-five times (in honor of the Steans anniversary). The sonority crescendos to a raucous climax that ends in receding thunder and resonance. And at the end of the work, that reverberation clears to reveal the source, made distant through the distortion of time.”