Fantasy on St. Cecilia

Instrumentation: Solo piano
Duration: 16:30
Premiere: 4/20/97
Pianist Gayle Martin Henry
The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

View Score | Purchase Music

Program Note:
Fantasy on St. Cecilia is a solo adaptation of my piano concerto The Passion of St. Cecilia; it was commissioned by and is dedicated to pianist Gayle Martin Henry. St. Cecilia, long revered as the patron saint of music, has been the subject of numerous works of art in many media. Her connection to music turns out to be apocryphal, stemming from a mistranslation or embroidery that dates from the fifteenth century. In the fifth century, the Romans persecuted her for her Christian beliefs, and she ultimately died at their hands with three strokes of an axe. I found her story compelling, as was the idea of musically representing a woman’s martyrdom. Fantasy on St. Cecilia is a three-movement piece. The first, Her Struggle, depicts the antagonism between the larger community and the individual. The second, Her Passion, symbolizes her spiritual journey. The music has the chorale from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion tucked inside it and spread out in ways that some listeners may recognize. The third, Her Martyrdom, depicts Cecilia’s final struggle, her bodily end but her spiritual triumph. The concerto form is a protean one, in which the soloist can have a tremendous range of relationships with the orchestra. In the concerto on which this piece is based, the relationships move from adversarial to supportive to violent. In transforming the concerto into a solo piano piece, I have incorporated these relationships within the dramatic range of the solo instrument.–JS

Press Quote:
“…[Fantasy on St. Cecilia]…Shatin’s ideas are far from time-worn, and she presents them in a unique and riveting manner…” –The Washington Post

“…Fantasy on St. Cecilia is more ambitious and complex, both in the actual language of the music and the dramatic intent (concepts that are two sides of the same coin). This is a solo piano reduction of a concerto, also recorded by Gayle Martin. It is in three movements, titled “Her Struggle,” “Her Passion,” and “Her Martyrdom.” This is bold and richly expressive  music,  delivered with smoldering power by Martin.” – Issue 40:2 (Noiv/Dec 2016), Fanfare

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