Matt Van  Brink, composer, pianist, accordionist

Swan Lake Fantasy (Tchaikovsky) (2012)

piano trascription | 23 mins.
Commissioned by and first performed by Matei Varga

Hudson Guild Theater, 28-30 March 2014, with Matthew Westerby Company


Making an arrangement of a great piece of music means breaking it apart, inspecting the pieces, and from them, creating something new again. I've worked in this manner in gleeful arrangements for chamber ensembles, student ensembles, and the wild, multi-faceted Polkastra. In the piano world, though, there is already a unique genre of "arrangement" -- the transcription, a flexible term ranging from faithful adaptations to fantastic interpolations. I enjoy solving musical puzzles, so when Matei Varga approached me to create this work for him, I liked the idea of not only making the arrangement, but doing it in such a way that it fits into the canon of piano transcriptions.

Of course, there is already a piano reduction of Swan Lake, but one that is merely sufficient for rehearsal of the ballet, not an impressive pianistic display. And since the entire work is over two hours long, the process of creating this new version would be one of cutting down, beefing up, and reshaping. And by presenting the themes and dances in a new, perhaps surprising order, an entirely new story emerges out of the old one.

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