The Gods of Old are Silent – Live Performance

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On 24th June, 2017, my work ‘The Gods of Old are Silent’ (on Lord Byron’s poem) was performed in Orestiada, Greece, during one of the open air recital in frame of the annual music and art urban festival ‘Oresteia’. The performance had been conducted due to the kindness of the administration of the Municipal enterprise of cultural development for public benefit (DIKEPAO), the Municipal music school (Odeio), and its choirmaster and vocal teacher Maria Dimitriadou.

Originally composed for the 2-part chorus, the work had been arranged for two female voices by Maria Dimitriadou (the flute part was omitted).

The performers:

Poem reciting, vocal: Stella Pantou, Dimitra Fydanidou (pupils of the vocal department of the Odeio)

Introductory speech, piano: Maria Dimitriadou

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For the Greek audience, the translation of the English text of the Byron’s poem was made by Dimitrios Pispinis:

Οι αρχαίοι Θεοί είναι σιωπηλοί στην ακτή  

Από τότε που ο μεγάλος Πάν χάθηκε, και με ένα βρυχηθμό    

Από τα νερά του Ιονίου ακούστηκε μία φοβερή    

Φωνή που διακήρυξε «ο Μεγάλος Παν είναι νεκρός.»     

Πόσα πέθαναν μαζί του! ψέματα ή αλήθεια – το όνειρο 

Ήταν όμορφο που γέμισε κάθε ρυάκι   

Με περισσότερο από πτερυγωτούς κατοίκους, και στόλισε    

Δάση και νερά με ντροπαλές νύμφες που περιφρόνησαν 

Τις θεότητες που τις κυνήγησαν, ή στις αγκαλιές  

Με τους θεούς γέννησαν την υψηλή γενιά των ηρώων

Τα ονόματα των οποίων βρίσκονται στους λόφους και στις θάλασσες.

 

It was my honor and great pleasure to be performed first in Greece and in Orestiada.

Read more about this work

Look at the score

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On Desert Rose

On Desert Rose, for guitar quartet

Date of composing June 2017

Genre program Romantic piece, fantasy, musical poem

Style Neo-Romantic, Romantic, Arabic ethnic

Duration [11′]

Level of difficulty intermediate

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini   all rights reserved

Description

In D, Lontano. Lento sostenuto.  A program composition inspired by Arabian desert, its nature and culture, and based on the poem composed specifically for this music by Natalia Pispini.

In spring 2017, I received the suggestion from classical guitarist César Mora to compose a piece for his ensemble Cairo Guitar Collective based in Cairo, Egypt. The proposition was to compose music which would reflect Arabic elements. I liked the idea and the new challenge of composing for the guitar. Some years ago I have visited the National Museum in Riyadh where I was impressed by the desert rose, the rock formation with amazing scheme of rose petals (the photo of this rock is used in the image above). So, I thought of the desert like metaphor of death, loneliness, indifference, while the rose could symbolize life, love, expectations… Thus, the fabula, then the poem and the music were created.

Poem

ON  DESERT  ROSE

… no one can see her beauty

after the wind ’s soft blowing

the desert rose’s come to life at night

 

her unexpected beauty

 

and in the morning  – a breathless rock again

one has to guard another spring

as month shaban ’ll be coming

in hazy gleams of sickle moon hilal

guard as it ‘ll breeze from south …

 

Program plot can be described as following:

It had happened in a lonely desert. There was a stone desert rose. Once by night, in spring, in month shaban, under the crescent moon hilal, after the south wind the stone desert rose had become an alive flower. It revealed its shining beauty but nobody could see it in the desert at night. The morning and the sunrise came, and the rose became a stone again.

Musical themes

The main musical themes are those of

desert (mm.1-16),

night and loneliness (mm. 16-19, 28-39),

crescent moon (mm. 50-53),

south wind (mm. 63-66),

desert rose crystal stone (mm. 20-26),

desert rose as a beautiful flower (mm. 112-127),

morning light of the sunrise (mm. 156-169).

Musical structure

The musical structure is a long Romantic program piece with 4 major sections:

Introduction (Lontano) It’s like the beginning of a fairy-tale. Refers to the place of the story, the Arabian desert.

Exposition (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso. Con moto etc., letters A-B) shows the initial situation (it is night in the desert, there is a stone rose, and the crescent moon is on the sky, and the south wind is blowing).

Middle Section (Meno mosso. Più mosso etc., letters C-D) describes how the stone rose became an alive flower, and show its beauty.

Final Section (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso, letters E-F-G) reminds about the desert, night and loneliness, and leads to the end of the story (the morning is coming with the sunrise, and the rose becomes a stone again).

Arabic influence

When composing this music, the particular elements of Arabic music were used.

Sometimes the texture is affected by the Arabic oud playing manners.

There are so called ‘arabesques’ ornamenting the melody.

Finally, the Arabic maqams are represented:

Hijaz (themes of desert, night and loneliness),

Saba (theme of the stone desert rose),

Bayati (theme of moon),

Huzam (themes of the wind and the rose flower).

These maqams are interpreted as elements of Romantic / Neo-Romantic music style.

Performance notes

All the tempo changes are suggested by the composer and can be revised or omitted by the musicians according to their taste and professional level. Since the music has a character of a fantasy / fairy story, it’s tempo rubato can be played in various ways.

View the score sample

Listen to MIDI excerpt on YouTube

 

The Gods of Old are Silent, on Lord Byron’s poem

For a long time I wanted to compose a choral work with English lyrics but related to Greece. Among the first things there was Lord Byron’s philhellenism that came to my mind, and after searching I found one of his poems, a passage which is practically unknown. It looks rather like an unfinished draft, but the more I was reading it, the more impact it had on me. At once, this rough but yet genius fragment had given to me what I was seeking for: a retrospective view where great Greek mythology, history and spirit of freedom would be condensed just in few lines. Thus I’d made my choice. The choral song is easy to perform, it has only two choral parts (soprano-alto and tenor-bass). The flute pastoral solo (reference to ‘the mighty Pan’) had been added to the classical chorus+piano ensemble as an option.

Structure and technique

The song is in C major, Con moto e narrante. The lyrics are Lord Byron’s passage from his unfinished poem ‘Aristomenes’ written in Cephalonia island in September 1823, shortly after his arriving to Greece to help the Greek people in the liberation:

The Gods of old are silent on the shore.
Since the great Pan expired, and through the roar
Of the Ionian waters broke a dread
Voice which proclaimed “the Mighty Pan is dead.”
How much died with him! false or true—the dream
Was beautiful which peopled every stream
With more than finny tenants, and adorned
The woods and waters with coy nymphs that scorned
Pursuing Deities, or in the embrace
Of gods brought forth the high heroic race
Whose names are on the hills and o’er the seas.

The musical form is free and reflects the text. Natural modes have been chosen as the appropriate for the solemn, epic character of the piece. The phrases are evenly distributed between female and male voices to provide the easiness of singing of choral texture, and that makes the work suitable for amateur singers (while the piano and the flute parts should be considered of intermediate level of difficulty).

Performance notes

The performance is expected to move in moderate tempo and strict, stable rhythm. The flute part is optional and can be omitted.

Date of composing March 2017

Genre choral song for mixed 2-parts chorus, piano and flute

Language English

Style Neo-Romantic

Duration [2’20”]

Level of difficulty beginner or amateur chorus

Copyrights music: © 2017 Natalia Pispini; George Gordon Byron’s poem ‘Aristomenes’ from public domain (https://en.wikisource.org)

Look at the score sample

Listen to the MIDI-rendering on YouTube

Purchase the escore on Etsy 

Purchase the escore on Sheetmusicplus

This work had its first performance on June 24, 2017, in Orestiada, Greece. read more…

 

In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

InYellowWaves_title

 

  1. Larghetto e dondolante
  2. Allegretto energico

 Genre contrapuntal pieces

Date of composing October 2014, November 2016 – revised (I); March 2017 (II)

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’57”], [1’47”]

Level of difficulty intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2017 Natalia Pispini

Description

The idea of these pieces occurred after the trip through the Arabian desert. The highway crossed endless sand-dunes which took bizarre dark-yellow color due to the car’s UV-protected windows. The view of that sand ocean together with the huge sun disk hanging indifferently in the sky had left an unforgettable image. Thus ‘In Yellow Waves I’ was created. Later I composed the second piece, a ‘companion’ with similar conception of undulating melody but contrasting by tempo, rhythm and character.

In both compositions the contrapuntal polyphonic technique of canon (strict or free) was applied. The texture keeps canon fragments coming and disappearing, or it may change intervals. The drums (one player) perform rhythmic accompaniment. Bitonality (I) and bimodality (II) bring more chilly and dissonant sound. Another distinctive feature is the uneven meter 7/8 in the second piece.

The following instruments are used for the drums part:

I – acoustic bass drum, acoustic snare, hi-hat, 2 hanging toms and a floor tom, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, tambourine, triangle, cowbell.

II – acoustic bass drum, acoustic snare, hi-hat, 2 hanging toms and a floor tom, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, China cymbal, tambourine.

To learn the further details, to look at the score and the audio samples and to purchase the scores, please click on the links below.

In Yellow Waves I

In Yellow Waves II

In Yellow Waves II, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

 

From ‘In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

Date of composing March 2017

Genre contrapuntal piece

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’47”]

Level of difficulty advanced

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini

Description

In C/G, Allegretto energico. Waving melody principle once again (after The Yellow Waves I) is employed in this piece. The uneven meter 7/8 together with complex syncopations and accents bring particular drive to this composition. Polyphonic technique of free canon is used (when the voice-follower imitates the interval number and not the quality). Two canon voices – trumpet (leader) and saxophone (follower) – are in different tonalities (C and G) and modes, so the basic canon interval is the fourth but not necessary. In B and A2 sections of the simple quaternary form AA1BA2 the canon intervals are changing, and by the end the canon structure is dissolving. The drums (one player part) accompany the canon.

Performance notes

Quick changes of legato, non legato, staccato and glissando, in combination with ‘jumping’ melody and specific accentuation constitute technical difficulties in this piece for trumpet and saxophone players. The trills are always with the note above, tone or semitone apart. The drums part requires good foot technique.

The drums notation:

InYellowWaves2DrumsNotation

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

Purchase the score

Learn about the first piece in the same opus, In Yellow Waves I

 

In Yellow Waves I, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

From ‘In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

Date of composing October 2014; November 2016 – revised

Genre contrapuntal piece

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’57”]

Level of difficulty intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

In C/A, Larghetto e dondolante. The swaying motion of this piece is imitating moves along sand-dunes. Hard-swinging rhythm, triplets and syncopation refer to jazz style. The structure is simple ternary form ABA1 with a brief introduction. The texture is more sophisticated with a polyphonic strict canon which is ‘scattering’ by the end of the composition. Two canon voices – trumpet (leader) and saxophone (follower) – are in different tonalities (C and A), and the canon interval is the major third. The drums (one player) accompany the canon.

Performance notes

Combination of legato and glissando is the primary playing technique here for trumpet and saxophone players. The extended pitch range is applied. The percussion set includes triangle and cowbell. The triangle sound is of two qualities: 1) the normal sound, and 2) the quieter sound (out of the inner area of the instrument).

The drums notation:

InYellowWaves1DrumsNotation

 

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

Purchase the score

Learn about second piece in the same opus, In Yellow Waves II

Two Salon Pieces, for string quartet

Two Salon Pieces

  1. Expectation. A major. Tempo di Valse
  2. Determination. A minor. Tempo di Mazurka

 Genre pieces for string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) in character of waltz and mazurka dances

Date of composing October 2014; March 2016 – revised

Style Neo-Romantic

Duration [2’00”], [1’57”]

Level of difficulty beginner to intermediate; intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

Here is my first attempt to compose miniatures for string quartet, with classical approach to musical form and texture, and touches of Neo-Romantic emotionalism on the level of harmony and tonalities. Both pieces display an airy and capricious character; both are connected with the dance meters / rhythmic patterns. Maybe, these things have eventually brought me to the title ‘Salon Pieces’. Both are composed in a simple ternary musical form ABA1. The texture is basically homophonic (melody or ‘thickened’ melody vs. harmonic support) and enriched by flashes of ‘spicy’ chromatic notes. The bowing technique is specified if necessary.

To learn the details please click on the links below

Expectation

Determination