ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 2 min 30 s

Programme Note

The title of Price's In Sentimental Mood makes clear the motivation behind the work's signature motive and most of its thematic material: Duke Ellington's jazz classic In a Sentimental Mood (1935). The signature gesture of Ellington's tune is an ascending gapped scale leading from the tonic to a longer note on the ninth above, which then returns to the upper tonic. Price uses these same signature gestures motivically for her titularly related piano composition In Sentimental Mood (no a): she begins every section with it, inverts it, tosses it about throughout the texture, and so on. Price's work is also notable for its whimsical tonal structure: it begins and ends in E-flat major, but modulates abruptly to B major in m. 25, F major in m. 41, and G major in m. 57 before returning to the tonic E-flat; the harmonic progression in mm. 69-78 reveals Price's genius for rich harmonic language without compromising the work's lighthearted warmth. The fundamental characteristic materials of Price's piece are the same as those of Ellington's, and Price retains the melodic beauty and air of sentimental romance that motivates Ellington's work. Yet Price, using the stuff of Ellington's tune, creates a concertizing trope on Ellington's idea — making an entirely new piece that would, and could, never be confused with it. In Sentimental Mood is a work by Price, not by Ellington — and in it she speaks in a voice that is distinctively and inimitably her own.

— John Michael Cooper