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David Lang

Publisher: G. Schirmer

face so pale (1992)
Red Poppy
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
9 Minutes
Programme Note
David Lang face so pale (1992)
One’s first idea about writing for six pianos might be that almost all eighty-eight notes can be sounding at the same time. With all those possible notes, what’s a composer to do? I often try to do quite a lot less than is possible. I’m sure part of this is just mischievousness, but I also truly believe that concentrating on only one narrow performance aspect can make possible a musical intensity that a more expansive piece might overlook.

My piece ''orpheus over and under'' (1999) for two pianos used single-note tremolos to create a kind of nervous singing quality. For Piano Circus I wanted to go further with this idea of creating a nervous vocal tradition.

The top of the fifteenth-century charts was Guillaume Dufay’s ballade Se la face ay pale (‘If my face is pale’). My piece ''face so pale'' takes Dufay’s famous love song, subjects it to numerous pulling and stretching procedures, and divides the original three parts among the six pianos. The result is a bizarre equilibrium between the spaciousness of the actual music and the stuttering mechanism by which it is made.

— David Lang

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