ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 18 min

Programme Note

Both of the complete autographs for the first movement of Village Scenes, "Church Spires in Moonlight," tell us that this movement was composed on March 30–31, 1942, and it seems likely that the other two movements were written shortly thereafter. Along with the undated At Our House, In the Land o' Cotton (1943), and the still-unpublished late masterpiece Scenes in Tin Can Alley, the work is one of four collections that Price composed that were inspired by settings. Village Scenes is the only one of these collections whose first movement is significantly longer and more complex than the others. At some point someone — apparently Price herself — penciled in numbers that appear to represent durations at the head of each movement: "Church Spires in Moonlight" is marked "5" (i.e., 5'00"), while "A Shaded Lane" is marked "2½" (2'30") and "The Park" is marked "1½" (1'30"). All three movements feature the richly chromatic post-Romantic harmonic language inflected with African American patterns that typifies Price's mature style — especially the B section (mm. 31-71) of No. I, the A sections of No. II (mm. 1-39 and their repeat), and the playful central episodes of No. III (mm. 29-40, e.g.). Additionally No. I reveals the evocative post-impressionist techniques also from Price's contemporaneous masterpiece Clouds — complete with ostinato effects evocative of pealing bells, whole-tone materials (for example, mm. 19-21, 25-26), and wispy filigree (mm. 41, 44, 57, etc.).

— John Michael Cooper

Church Spires in Moonlight
A Shaded Lane
The Park


Robin Arrigo, piano