The Variants were composed at the request of flutist Michael Finegold and guitarist Oscar Lopez Plaza. The request was made in the spring of 2003 during recording sessions for my Hamilton Street Concerto.
The six Variants are intended to link almost seamlessly, though there is a short pause before and after Variant 4, a variation itself of the Danse Reve from my String Quartet No. 2. Each variant is, essentially, a theme and variations unto itself, however material from one variant may be developed further in another. The first three variants are generally bright and cheerful in character, the exceptions being the middle section (for strings alone) of Variant 2: an aggressive and dissonant episode, and the lyrical opening of Variant 3. Variant 5 is a fugue in Dorian mode wherein the outer statements of the subject frame a song-like passacaglia. The fugue is immediately followed by the final variant, an unabashedly joyous romp.