4 Esquisses

for piano

Brian Inglis

🔍 Preview Score
Logged-in user discounts applied
Log in to get discounts (now or at checkout)
Ask us about multi-copy choral discounts


for piano

Ask about this work
Composer Brian Inglis
Year of Composition 2019
Duration ca.8'
ISMN 9790570683963

Instrumentation Piano
Student Difficulty int-adv
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-bi1fe1


  1. Fragment de quatour
  2. Oiseaux tristes et joyeux
  3. Extrait du concerto
  4. Les cloches

In December 2018 the Alkan Society issued a call to ‘Write your own Esquisse’ inviting members to write short pieces ‘as a tribute to Alkan and his op.63, or more broadly as an opportunity for a composer… to be stimulated and influenced by Alkan’.

Needing no further encouragement, I immediately started conceptualising a short suite of Esquisses, in particular using up offcuts from my substantive Concerto for Piano Solo composed as a homage to Alkan in the year of his bicentenary, 2013 (published in 2015 and available from Composers Edition, ce-bi1cfsp1). Three out of the four pieces came about in this way, refracting Alkan’s own interest in the imitation of sounds variously natural (birdsong), human-made (bells) and specifically musical (eg orchestral instruments on the piano). The remaining piece grows from a transcription of Alkan’s sketch for a string quartet. Placed first, it provides a bedrock of echt Alkan on which my own flights of fancy are built:

Fragment de quatour (ca 2′)

This piece takes a transcription of Alkan’s tantalising opening for a projected string quartet in C minor as a starting point, then leads it in a progressively different direction…

Oiseaux tristes et joyeux (ca 1’30”)

This piece references the trajectory from Rameau’s ‘Rappel des oiseaux’ to Messiaen’s Petites esquisses d’oiseaux via Ravel and Alkan, whose op. 63 Esquisses certainly fall within this space of French pianism. In the inimitable words of Richard Gorer: ‘he stands like some musical pithecanthropus as a link between the clavecinistes, and the impressionists of the early years of the twentieth century’.

Performed by Richard Shaw

Extrait du concerto (1′)

A nod at Alkan’s ‘Tutti de Concerto’, op.63 no 15, within a different stylistic frame of reference, with a wink at the British complexity school along the way.

Les cloches (2’30”)

A very different take on bell sounds to Alkan’s op.63 no 4, with a side nod at the kind of colour and keyboard ‘orchestration’ found in the piano music of Debussy (as well as Alkan). A slight echo, too, of the implacable mysticism of the latter’s final unnumbered piece from Op. 63, ‘Laus Deo’.

Performed by Richard Shaw