Saturday, December 8, 2012

Townsend: El Decameron Negro III Balada de la Doncella Enamorada by Leo Brouwer

The third and last of the three movements of El Decameron Negro by Leo Brouwer is titled "Balada de la Doncella Enamorada" which translates as "Ballad of the Maid in Love". It is the longest movement and in some ways the most charming. It is in rondo form, meaning that there is a theme--interestingly enough, a very standard 8-measure theme, with two measures of introduction and two measures of transition at the end--and this theme keeps coming back. There are two episodes, one in the subdominant and another, perhaps, in the mediant. In between there is the rondo theme, which also returns at the end. So the form is ABACA. The title and the reference to African folk-tales in this and the other movements is like window-dressing. The bones of the music are really very neo-classical. In fact, the model for this piece could very well be a Beethoven piano sonata: three movements, the first in sonata form with repeated exposition, the second a set of variations and the third a rondo. You could do far worse! I've been working myself up to something similar, so far unsuccessfully. Here is the first movement. Here is the second movement. Now for my performance of the third movement. I have included scans of the rondo theme from the original manuscript and from the printed edition. I think you can see, in red, my corrections of the published version. Then a photo of the composer and some photos of my hands and myself.

If you want a Beethoven sonata for comparison, you might try this one:

The character of the themes and the harmonies is quite different, of course, but the formal plan is the same as the Brouwer piece.

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