“Marvelous phenomenon, stasis in musical discourse. It reigns supreme over genres, styles and schools of thought. The art of sound expanding not only in space but in time, crystallized in eternal instants that neither move forward nor cease their advance. Minimalist object of study of minimalism. But not only of minimalism. The variation form (a sequentially varied theme, a theme followed by a sequence of variations), in the absence of a premeditated counter-stimulus, tends ‘dangerously’ towards stasis. In the absence of a mobilizing or dynamizing force, the variation form, at least on the macro scale, lacks forward propulsion. The variations, sequenced, can follow one after another ad infinitum.
There are, however, mechanisms that enable the reconciliation of the macroformal stagnation of variation form with, shall we say, teleological directionality. Beethoven, for instance, repeatedly identifies these with procedures of tonal change: the complex tonal plan of Op. 34; the sublimation of C major into E-flat major in the second and last movement of his last piano sonata; the severe substitution of C minor for C major in variation XXIX of his monumental collection for Anton Diabelli; the irruption of new and antithetical expressive spaces in the finale of his Third Symphony (stylistic differences aside, Mozart proceeds in a similar fashion in the last movement of his Piano Concerto No. 24).
Beyond the ornamental, superficial (accessory?) appeal of variation form, a dialogue between identity and change, or stability and progress, takes place. Beyond this dialogue, an initial and apparent simplicity is left behind, and unsuspected and rich complexities begin to emerge. My set of variations has nothing to do with complex tonal plans, though.”