ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 3 min

Programme Note

Composed in 1949, To a Brown Leaf falls into a small group of Price's compositions that are notated entirely in pencil. But this by no means consigns it to the category of a sketch or a draft rather than a finished work — indeed, Price made at least two revisions of the manuscript — one in blue pencil and another in red pencil. The result was a finished work that, due to circumstances likely to remain forever unknown, simply never was notated in ink. Stylistically, it is cut from the same cloth as other mature gems including First Romance (1940s), Placid Lake (1947), and Until We Meet (1952), works of intimate, sentimental character characterized by graceful melodic lines, clear-cut forms, and rich harmonic language. The work as a whole is in a clear ternary form, with the central B section in the parallel minor of the tonic A major — but already the first eight bars venture into harmonically remote territory, even though they trace a clear path from the tonic A major to a half-cadence in that key, and the B section (più mosso, mm. 49-64) includes clear references to African American vernacular styles. Like much of Price's piano-solo output, To a Brown Leaf is work whose compact scale belies its compositional richness.

— John Michael Cooper