Estampie (1981) is a set of variations on a medieval dance. The original scoring, for orchestra, was commissioned and premiered by the Dallas Ballet. I also made a version for clarinet, cello, piano and percussion for the California E.A.R. Unit at the American Dance Festival. Hélène Wickett commissioned and premiered the present virtuoso transcription for piano solo, which Jeff Lankov edited in 2014. In the piano version, there are seven movements:
In "Istanpitta Ghaetta," the estampie is announced.
A slow "Intermezzo" follows, in which the estampie is embellished with lyrical interludes.
In a complex "Scherzo," the regular rhythm of the estampie is sharply juxtaposed with disjunct atonal writing. Ragtime rhythms appear, treated with Ars Nova discant and isorhythm techniques in a synthesis of widely disparate styles, after which the estampie reappears.
"The Slow Sleazy Rag," is a slinky tune based on the arpeggiated accompaniment of the "Intermezzo." It begins and ends with wistful hints of Wagner, and the middle section is shameless stripper music.
"The Couple Action Rag" follows as a companion piece. The two are slow/fast versions of the same material, as in traditional pavane/gaillard pairings. Here, instead of the court, there are rowdy evocations of the cabaret.
A short interlude, "Rimbombo" ("resonance"), states the theme quietly, alternating with echoes of the earlier "Intermezzo."
In "The Reversible Rag," the medieval rhythm dissolves into a four-note bass figure which expands into a twelve-note row then shrinks back to the original four notes in mirror fashion. Over this accompaniment, a lopsided atonal rag appears, also in palindrome form, slightly out of phase with the bass. The work ends in a grand quodlibet in which "The Reversible Rag," "The Couple Action Rag" and the original estampie are played simultaneously.
— Robert Xavier Rodríguez
Critical commentary includes, "…glows with a physical animation and delicate balance of moods that combine seductively with his all-encompassing sense of humor…a delightful interplay of rollicking rhythms and dissonant fragmentation that drew upon a Medieval refrain, ragtime colorings and a chilly serial melancholy. Strains of Scott Joplin were filtered through the jazzy Berlin sleaze of Kurt Weill or the eccentric whimsy of Erik Satie to create a poetic drama that teetered over the brink into a frenzied jamboree." — Colin Gardner, Los Angeles Times
I. Istanpitta Ghaetta
II. The Reversible Rag
V. The Slow Sleazy Rag
VI. Couple Action Rag