Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Amy Beach: Prelude and Fugue in A Minor for Piano, a massive late work



Having heard a small organ piece by Amy Beach Sunday, I looked into one of her large solo piano works, the Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, Op. 81, composed around 1917.


The work is hyper-chromatic, recalling Liszt and Scriabin, even in the fugue.  Beach is America’s best known post-romantic classical composer, with a style that sometimes resembles Brahms (the Piano Concerto), Dvorak (the E Minor Symphony) and then becomes more modern and dissonant – Scriabin is a good comparison.  She had command of harmony and counterpoint and piano technique equal to all the familiar great (male) composers of her time.

The fugal subject reminds me of a similar subject that generates the cadenza-fugue of Eugen D'Albert's Piano Concerto #1 (itself inspired by Liszt).
     
This Beach work would be a crowd pleaser.  I wonder if it has ever been transcribed for organ.

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