Variations on a Theme of Euphemia Allen
# of Players: 1
Instrumentation: Solo Piano
A set of variations on a very, very familiar theme: published as “The Celebrated Chop Waltz,” by Arthur di Lulli, it was written by one Euphemia Allen and better known as “Chopsticks.” The introduction is a Lisztian flourish, leading almost comically to the theme in its complete form. The variations are free-form, each self-contained, and exploring some aspect of the theme. The first two are shorter and more dancing, being characteristically waltz-like. The third breaks from the waltz to play with a little motif in 4/4 time, while the fourth is slower and more sentimental. A gigue-like fifth variation in a minor key includes a mandatory Dies Irae reference, and follows straight into a lighter major-key piece that follows organically out of the gigue. Two slower elaborations then lead into a scherzo and a fughetta, which flows into a chorale in the style of Mendelssohn’s E Minor Prelude and Fugue. Finally, a virtuosic coda which quotes Beethoven’s first sonata and calls back to the introduction rounds out the work. The whole is about a twenty-minute vehicle for showmanship, for a pianist with a good sense of humour.