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.

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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 

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

 

…eventide will come…

Eventide will come

Sunny day on a beach in the Gulf… So noisy, busy and shiny all day long, and suddenly getting quiet by the evening… And before the evening there was an hour or so when you could sense this turning to the slow mood. I was fascinated by those slight changes… Playing this music, I thought of the moment when our thoughts are calming down and we feel that happiness  of the being itself, no matter what is around. For that expression I chose simple major scale and slow change of bases of harmonies (pedal points).

Title …eventide will come…

Genre improvisation (live playing on MIDI-keyboard)

Tasks piano; major scale, pedal points; expression of calming down and happiness

Duration [2’40]

Date of creating May 8, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini; CC BY-NC license (for non-commercial use)

(Raw score is available on demand. You can order similar style music from Natalia)

Watch on YouTube

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

Determination, for string quartet

 

From ‘Two Salon Pieces, for string quartet’

Date of composing March 2016

Genre a piece for string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) in character of mazurka

Style Neo-Romantic

Duration [1’57”]

Level of difficulty advanced

Copyright © 2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

In A minor, Tempo di Mazurka. Lyrical and dramatic mood is prevailing here, with mazurka meter of ¾ and the rhythmic patterns typical for this dance. The ternary form ABA1 has shortened B section. The almost relentless tempo, the predominance of minor tonalities and the ‘insisting’ repeated figure at the cello part – all these features serve the named character of ‘determination’. But the chromatic details reveal anxious and unstable qualities in the whole.

Performance notes

The performance of this piece requires basic level of virtuosity. Besides dramatic development within the piece, it is expected to be played in relatively light and elegant sound. Holding strictly the tempo and following precisely the rhythmic patterns are essential for the musical image.

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

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Expectation, for string quartet

 

 

 

From ‘Two Salon Pieces‘, for string quartet

Date of composing October 2014; March 2016 – revised

Genre a piece for string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) in character of waltz

Style Neo-Romantic

Duration [2’00”]

Level of difficulty beginner to intermediate

Copyright © 2014-2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

In A major, Tempo di Valse. The composition displays pure lyrical character based on waltz meter ¾ and, at the same time, develops in changeable motion which corresponds to the emotion of ‘expectation’. The contrasting middle section (C minor) of the ternary form ABA1 brings for a while more dramatic sounds.

Performance notes

Although the composition holds the dance rhythm, the manner of playing is a piacere, so the musicians are free to alternate slightly the tempo. (The phrases with wider melody supported by arpeggio chords are the most suitable for slowing down.) The important part of expressiveness in this piece is the legato technique applied to the variations in phrasing.

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

Purchase the score and parts on Etsy

Purchase the score on Sheetmusicplus