My youngest son Leif was learning the piano part. We wanted to
surprise his teacher, Graeme Humphrey, with a private performance. It
was during piano practise that I started thinking 'why not!', why not
compose my own swan! The idea is not a new one. There is a beautiful
- and difficult! - Swan by Finnish composer Selim Palmgren (1878-
1951), and a variante on Saint-Saëns' original by his student Leopold
Godowsky (1870-1938), enriched in the deliciously imaginative way so
typical of him. For my own undertaking, I wanted part of the material
to associate with Saint-Saëns' Swan, to be immediately recognisable.
Beyond beauty and resplendence, I sought no further.
Two different endings hint at Saint-Saëns' original, in which the last
chord of the piano part has the length of an eighth-note. A remarkable
end to a piece of such dignity and grandeur, possibly eccentric, but
it often leads to performances ending on a fermata for both players.
This is unquestionably very beautiful and atmospheric, and comes
with a guaranteed effect on an audience which is ready to seek relief
in a sigh. This to be weighed, of course, against the composer's own
design. Your call.