Portrait of Janis Op. 9

Composed: 2000
Duration: 6 minutes 30 seconds
First Performance: August 2000, performed to a private audience by the composer in San Mateo, California

This piano miniature was written in the autumn of 2000, following a visit to San Francisco. The composer writes “the piece is a wistful evocation of mood, a backward glance, remembering a perfectly happy moment spent with special friends” Indeed the piece is very much about time and place, ‘recollected in tranquillity’, with one such friend placed at its centre – Janis. The piece opens with a chordal idea that roots the work firmly in English soil. But by bar ten a ‘backward glance’ is heard in a germ of an idea that is soon given full expression in the Janis theme proper. This contemplative chorale theme is developed over a rocking piano accompaniment that acts as a metaphor for the passage of time. This idea is extended and reaches a natural climax point with the return of Janis’ theme in a more heroic guise. After a brief winding down, the work unexpectedly modulates and a new thematic idea is introduced. This second “backward glance” has an obvious American feel to it. The composer explained that this section was a brief meditation upon his visit and represents a personal thank you to all his friends in the Bay area. The piece ends with a collage of the work’s principal themes underpinned by a return of the ‘rocking idea’ as it meanders to a wistful and transient close.