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A Singing Pianist's Lament (with Apologies to Shostakovich)

By Paul Pisano

Detailed Description

Piano Accompaniment, Alto Voice, Baritone Voice, Bass Voice - Advanced - Digital Download
Composed by Paul Pisano. Contemporary Classical, Comedy, Spoken Word. Score. 7 pages. Published by PWP Enterprises (S0.573499).

Item Number: S0.573499

As the text of this song soon reveals, it is intended to be sung by a baritone or a mezzo soprano accompanying him-/herself. It could, however, be performed in the usual way if there is some explanation--either in program notes or verbally from the stage--that the singer serves as an avatar for the pianist (if anything this might even amplify the humor of the basic premise).

The introduction quotes the lugubrious eight-chord passacaglia from the slow movement of the Shostakovich Piano Trio No. 2. The spoken monologue above it, resembling the "sympathetic" script of a prescription drug commercial (hence the marking Alla pubblicità farmaceutica), signals from the outset that the intent of the quotation is parody. After one complete iteration of the passacaglia the song launches into a giddy waltz over the same chord progression--with a couple of slight tweaks to adapt it to a Bb Major context--confessing that this pianist struggles more than others to sing or even speak independently of what s/he is playing (as attested by the piano's nearly relentless unison or octave doubling of the vocal melody).

As the singer launches into a quasi-scripted-stand-up-routine detailing his or her woes, the piano maintains a bare-bones waltz accompaniment for four more iterations of the passacaglia. The original melody returns briefly before rising four-measure sequences accelerate from waltzing quarter notes through quadruplets and quintuplets to eighth notes, demonstrating the absurd predicament that could arise from the voice's lack of independence from the piano. For the final codetta the singer sustains a high F for seven measures (at a Presto tempo) while the piano, in a keyboard style somewhat reminiscent of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz, reiterates the passacaglia once more while dashing headlong toward the final cadence.

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