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Etudes Tombeaux Series 2 for piano solo

By Joseph Dillon Ford

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Piano Solo - Advanced - Digital Download
Composed by Joseph Dillon Ford. 21st Century, Impressionistic, Neo-Classical. Score. 12 pages. Published by David Warin Solomons (S0.431031).

Item Number: S0.431031

The movements are:
1. Erinnyes (the Furies)
2. Etude tombeau
3. Hommage à Degas

The Études-Tombeaux, Series 2, were composed during the months of June and July 2009. Though
conceived as a related “set” of three movements, they may be performed as individual concert
pieces. "Les Erinnyes" was the first in order of completion, followed by "Hommage à Edgar
Degas" and the Étude-Tombeau. These pieces are “studies” in the fullest sense of the word, since
they pose not only formidable technical difficulties for the mature pianist in search of
virtuoso concert literature but also represented a challenge for the composer himself, who set out
to create new music in a romantic idiom comparable in both difficulty and artistic scope to
the études of Chopin and Liszt.

“Les Erinnyes” ("The Furies") is an evocation of the punishing spirits of Classical
myth—Alecto (Unrest), Megaera (Jealousy), and Tisiphone (Vengeance). The étude opens with an
extended section swarming with biting dissonances, requiring the pianist to perform
successive seconds in sixteenth notes at a relatively fast tempo in the right hand alone
within a relatively subdued dynamic range. Rapid, delicate double-note figuration in the right hand
continues to dominate as the music finally takes on a tonal orientation, eventually leading to
powerful octaves in contrary motion alternating with brilliant sextuplets. A less agitated, more
lyrical section ensues, in which the right hand sounds a plaintive melody over streams of
sixteenths and finally to the accompaniment of rocking triplets below. After the music fades to a
barely audible pianissississimo, the tempo rapidly accelerates, and with a startling crescendo an
exotic scale rises from the depths to a final chordal climax. The overall key in this movement
is E minor, corresponding to the tonal center of the third étude in the series.

The Étude-Tombeau is a study in subtle dynamic contrasts within the “piano” dynamic
range, and as such is more about control and nuance that overt virtuosity. T he “tombeau” in
the title suggests that it belongs to the long tradition of laments or déplorations created in
honor of deceased composers, although Ford had no specific composer in mind and sought, instead,
to revitalize this commemorative genre itself by intentionally adopting a traditional style. This
étude is cast in A A’ B A” form, where the “B” section comprises a short cadenza following a
passing allusion to operatic recitative. The tonal center in this movement is C-sharp minor.

“Hommage à Edgar Degas” recalls the many splendid paintings celebrating the dance by
the eponymous French artist. It alternately features wide leaps and brilliant sextuplet
figuration in A B A’ C form, with the A and A’ sections suggesting delicate balletic steps
performed en pointe. while B and C summon to the imagination bold pirouettes executed with almost
superhuman rapidity. The movement begins in E minor and ends in the parallel major.

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