Fantasia on three notes


Fantasia on three notes was my first commission, requested by New Zealand pianist Tessa Birnie. She gave its first performance for Radio Turkey in 1967.

About the work

When I was writing Fantasia on three notes, I had begun studying with Peter Maxwell Davies in Adelaide, and revelled in discovering ways to extend and control my expanding technique, resulting in a technically difficult piece.

Emma Carlé writes:

‘The title refers not so much to free fantasy but to the imagination required to create music from minimal material — in this case, the opening 3-note motive. The work is in 3 sections, corresponding to these notes, and the fabric of the entire piece is generated from them. There are patterns that emerge within sections, as well as those spanning the whole work, trills and tempo changes included.

Because of the inherent symmetry of the generated material, with layers building up both forwards and backwards, the composer’s original intention was to make a palindromic structure, but it became instead, a through-composed work with coda.’

Scores and recordings

The score was published by Waiteata Music Press in 2001.

Fantasia on three notes — publication

Waiteata also released a recording in their CD series.

Waiteata Composer Portrait — CD