ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 3 min

Programme Note

Memory Mist typifies Price's gift for combining succinctness with musical pith: it is only fifty-two bars long and lasts just over three minutes, but the wealth of imagination and emotional range in that short expanse of music is remarkable. The tranquil lyricism, blues-influenced harmonies, and rich but delicate dissonances of the A section in E-flat major (mm. 1-24 and 41-52) contrast with the greater urgency and sparser call-and-response textures of the B section in the parallel minor. The rhythmic language of the two sections likewise contrasts. Yet despite these contrasts there are also connections: the chromatic descents woven into the harmonic fabric in mm. 11-15 anticipate the chromatically descending line from D-flat to G-flat in mm. 25-29, and the responding chords in the right hand in mm. 33-36 subtly recall the main theme of the surrounding A sections. It is tempting to imagine that these wispy recollections and anticipations account for the otherwise somewhat cryptic title Memory Mist, but the phrase may alternatively derive from the fact that when Price wrote the piece she was sixty-two, in a season of life where memory, for many, is enfolded in mist. In any event the composition is compact and deliciously evocative — a musical distillation of engagingly cryptic title and traditional form combined with blues-influenced harmony and African-American-influenced texture.

— John Michael Cooper