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Epitaphs

4-hand two pianos
CategoryLarge Ensembles » Concertos
Instrumentation2-piano reduction, 2 copies
ComposerDeon Nielsen Price, ASCAP
Time13'
Composition Year1997
Publication Year1999
Pricenot available
The musical materials are based on the sequence of the Mass for the Dead called Dies Irae, which means “day of wrath”. This ancient plainsong was sung in requiems as early as the late 14th Century. Many modern composers, including Mozart, Berlioz, and Faure, have also employed “Dies Irae” in symphonic works. EPITAPHS develops with continuous variation of fragments from two of the plainsong phrases. Following a rather lengthy introduction which suggests a cemetery scene, the first plainsong phrase is introduced by a solo trumpet and echoed by chimes. The second phrase of the Dies Irae melody is subsequently stated throughout by the low brass. The innovative and contrasting variations are enhanced with contemporary compositional techniques, including irregular meters, atonal serialization and harmonies based on fourth and fifths rather than 3rds. Listeners might enjoy imagining themselves wandering through a cemetery reading the various epitaphs on the tombstones.
Recording Information
Piano and Orchestra version recorded on "Dancing on the Brink of the World", Cambria/NAXOS CD 2009; October 18, 2007 recording in Kiev with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, John McLaughlin Williams, conductor, Deon Nielsen Price, piano
Performance Information
The version for solo piano without orchestra was arranged in 1992 for performances during the 1990's by the composer at several universities in Southern California and in Heidelberg Germany in 2006.