Three Pieces

  • September 7, 1990
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Dedicated to Peter Serkin


Commissioned: For Peter Serkin by the 92nd Street Y with funds provided in part by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the NY State Council on the Arts

Premiere: November 11, 1989; 92nd Street Y, New York; Peter Serkin, piano

Duration: 10’




"In 1986, Peter Serkin asked me for a piece, its nature indeterminate until he had decided on a series of eleven new works for piano, to be performed in a single concert. Each composer was asked to write a six-minute piece. I arrived at a long, slow piece, surrounded by two very fast ones. The harmonic material of the slow piece, a multi-layered landscape, consisted of the fast pieces slowed down, magnified and fitted together in different ways. But if the slow piece could be squeezed, at both ends would pop out two very short, fast pieces which are contained in the slow piece, though not recognizable as such — I had thought of calling the pieces "Inside Out." The fast pieces are spotlights, which throw the slow piece into relief. Not a sonata, then, the pieces were written specifically with Peter Serkin's sound and dynamic in mind. Having admired his performances for fifteen years, I was aware of the subtlety and complexity of his immense talent, and I wrote music that I hoped would challenge and reward his unique way of playing the piano."


-Tobias Picker


New York NewsdayTim Page

"Peter Serkin, a great pianist at the peak of his powers, has had the splendid audactity to devote an entire program to new music...he has commissioned short works from 11 composers... Serkin chose his composers carefully; they have rewarded him with miinatures of unusually high quality."


"Tobias Picker provided three interrelated pieces: the outer two shot by quickly and brilliantly, the central movement was serious and sumptuous."



The New York TimesBernard Holland

"Peter Serkin joined the early-music movement...by offering one of the most authentic of 18th-century practices: programs consisting of all new music."


"One recurring impression throughout the evening...was of composers who care for Mr. Serkin's chosen instrument, who have written music that flatters the piano, exploits its pleasures and bathes in its most attractive qualities."


"...But then there were more hard-bitten temperaments to be heard from: Tobias Picker's tangle of energy and darting motion in Three Pieces for Piano..."



San Francisco ChronicleJoshua Kosman

"The most compelling music came near the beginning and the end of the evening...Picker's Three Pieces for Piano arrange two dynamic, dazzling fast movements around a lovely...slow interlude."


Three Pieces for Piano

Sheet Music 


Recording Available from Wergo Records




For solo piano