ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 3 min 15 s

Programme Note

Published here for the first time, Price's Barcarolle appears to have been composed in the very late 1920s or very early 1930s. By genre, the work belongs among compositions, usually instrumental and written for piano solo, that imitate the songs sung by Venetian gondoliers during their gondola rides and/or the rocking motion of the boats on the water. Some barcarolles are large and ambitious in form (for example, Chopin's late Barcarolle, Op. 60), while others, such as the Venetian gondola songs of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words, are shorter and more intimate in tone. Price's Barcarolle falls into the latter category. True to its stylistic models, the work unfolds over a gently rocking accompaniment with slow harmonic rhythm, with gracefully arching, song-like melodies in the right hand. The generally regular four-bar phrases — another feature typical of the genre and of Italianate Romantic music generally — does not prevent Price from moving into her usual remote harmonic territories (for example, the move from A major to B-flat major in mm. 17-18 or the richly chromatic sequence from mm. 22-26). On the whole, this obscure gem perfectly complements the 1926 Tarantella for piano solo — a pair of works that beautifully document Price's fluency in musical Italianisms.

— John Michael Cooper