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'Oriori' is the Māori word for 'lullaby', and there are many traditional chants which are labelled as such. However the starting point for this piece is a piece from the more recent tradition of European-influenced Māori music. Hine e Hine is a gentle lullaby attributed to Te Rangi Pai (Fanny Rose Howie 1868-1916). Under the stage name The Princess Te Rangi Pai, she toured widely overseas as a singer, having studied in London and given her debut recital in Liverpool. Ill health eventually curtailed her career after only five or six years. This set of variations on Hine e Hine was written in 2005 following a approach from Argentinean pianist Alicia Weingarten for some New Zealand piano music. Not having written much piano music, and nothing recently, I decided that I would write something new. Ms Weingarten had also mentioned an interest in Māori music, so I felt combining the two ideas would be an interesting challenge. The piece begins with a short prologue which develops out of some of the harmonies of the theme. Simple tonal chords are superimposed over a low pedal note. The presentation of the theme is done is an already quite decorated manner. Constant semiquavers surround the theme in the upper parts of the texture. The first variation continues in similar manner, but with faster patterns of notes surrounding the theme. The second variation is more dramatic, echoing some of the chordal ideas of the prologue. The third variation is a slow and lyrical melody which develops out of the shape of the opening notes of Hine e Hine, set over an ostinato in the left hand. The fourth and final variation is a fast and light scamper again developing ideas from the opening notes of the theme's melody. Towards the end of this variation the music is interrupted by bold chords derived from the harmonic and melodic ideas of the final phrases of the theme. The piece ends with a return to the music of the prologue, presented with few changes until an extended ending section which includes a final hint of the theme's music.
06 Feb 2007: Changing Climates