I had some WordPress work to finish and some other obligations, so I didn’t get to spend all day on writing the music. I did make progress, tweaking the theme’s accompaniment and starting another variation that emphasized the opening tritone and ended with cascades of notes.
Writing for piano is always a bit of a struggle for me. It seems like every idea has already been tried and there is nothing new to do. My piano writing never feels pianistic enough, always a little awkward and without a nice flow. However, if I wrote something with a nice flow — I’m imagining Debussy — it wouldn’t be so fresh and new. It doesn’t help that I can play the piano, but not very well. Fast, flowing passages are mostly beyond my skill.
I decided that some piano score study might help. I like the Carnegie Hall Millenium Piano Book for its variety of idiomatic piano music that doesn’t require extreme virtuosity. It doesn’t mean the music is easy and I can’t play it up to tempo, but I can’t play Beethoven up to tempo either. A little listening to the included CD, performed by Ursula Oppens, starting with Chen Yi’s Ba Ban, has guided me toward a piano frame of mind.