I wrote this piece as a commission about 7 years ago, but I’d never actually learned to play it myself. Having spent the time to do a passable job, I can only say that my respect for David Matthews (who played the premiere) has only grown. It’s extremely challenging to play.
Robert Helps was one of my composition teachers. As far as I have been able to discover, Benjamin Boyle and I are the only two that he ever agreed to teach. After he passed away, I wanted to write a piece that incorporated some of his idioms.
As far as the mistakes in my playing, I can only say what Bob taught me to say. In a lesson one time, he said, “Kurt, take a lesson from you composition teacher. When you have a bad premiere, just say, ‘Well, I’m really a pianist’, and when you have a bad night playing, just say, ‘I’m really a composer.'”