The Night Piece
was composed in 1963 as a test piece for the first Leeds Piano Competition which was won by the seventeen-year-old pupil of Fanny Waterman, Michael Roll. The idea behind this composition was to put musicianship rather than mere virtuosity to the test. It is a quiet ternary design in B flat—very challenging in touch, legato melody and subtle use of pedal. The same gently falling motif of ‘Sailing’ forms a secondary theme here and the prevailing flow is broken by a cadenza of bird-song before the coda. The piece has been compared to the night musics of Bartók—a composer not without influence on Britten. But Britten’s own special feeling for night created a world of its own, and here is a miniature pendant to the preoccupations of the Serenade
, the Nocturne
and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
. While we may regret that the projected piano piece for Sviatoslav Richter never materialized, here is a characteristic envoi.
from notes by Eric Roseberry © 1995