Although the title, which comes from a poem by Pablo Neruda, was chosen after the piece was completed, its imagery captures the multi-dimensional way in which I approached the music. The work is a essentially a series of developing variations on an idea which is stated in the left hand at the outset. During the course of the piece this material is compressed and expanded in both time and space, and layered upon itself so that these variations unfold at different rates of speed and encompass different registers. With this approach I have tried to give the listener a sense of various “times” and “skies” coexisting. The work was written during the winter of 1990, shortly after my return from a six-month stay in England. It was commissioned by the Danish pianist Poul Rosenbaum with financial assistance from the Manitoba Arts Council.
Matthews' creation absorbing
“Though of a modern idiom, there’s nothing cloudy or abstract about Winnipeg composer Michael Matthews’ Of Time and Sky. It’s an absorbing 20-minute work, whose elements of colour, harmony and direction are both animated from within and deeply expressive, with a well-balanced formal framework that makes it very satisfying to take on.”