The Seven Deadly Sins
is Rodriguez’ third ballet. It as commissioned by the East Texas State University Wind Ensemble, Gary Hall, Director, and was composed in Dallas between June and December 1984. Scored for twenty-nine winds, two pianos and four percussion, the work may be performed in a variety of production settings: as a fully staged ballet; in a partially stages concert version using theatrical devices such as slides, lighting, balloons, mimes, acrobats and/or limited stage action (such as standing for solos) by the instrumentalists themselves; or in the traditional concert format.
Each instrumental group within the ensemble is assigned one of the Sins which it represents throughout the ten movements:
. The Seven Deadly Sins enter and quickly pass in review: led by Pride (the trumpets) and followed by Gluttony (the kettle drums), Lust (the saxophone), Avarice (the clarinets), Envy (the woodwinds), Anger (the horns) and finally, at a much slower tempo, Sloth (the lower brass).
is the longest movement. The image of Narcissus admiring his reflection in the water is portrayed by the trumpets, as they croon over an undulating piano/percussion accompaniment which swells up, then recedes in palindrome, or mirror, fashion.
is a vigorous Toccata in which the kettle drums and pianos introduce a “gobbling” motif which is gradually taken up by the entire ensemble accompanied by a cow bell and a rack of pots and pans. “A burp” from the brass, produced by popping their mouthpieces, leads directly to
, a short but passionate Intermezzo for the two intertwining pairs of saxophones.
begins with a cadenza in which the five clarinets compete in a musical depiction of a dice game: two pairs of instruments “roll” unsuccessfully before a fifth player “strikes it rich” on a high B flat and ushers in some spirited Dixieland, suggestive of a night on the town on Bourbon street. Strains of the hymn “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” are also discernable. All of this quickly comes to an end when the money runs out—literally in this case, poured from a money bag into a tambourine.
follows, a mournful Adagio in which the flutes, oboes and bassoons longingly repeat themes form the two pervious Sins. The movement grows in intensity and leads to
, another Toccata in which the trumpets of Pride return and, with the horns of Anger, lead the ensemble to a furious climax.
provides a respite from all this activity in the shortest movement of the ballet: twelve simple chords from muted trombones and tuba, accompanied by a gong which is submerged in a tub of water.
IX. Finally, an excerpt from the Gregorian sequence for the dead, the Dies Irae
, is intoned by the pianos and percussion in a stern commentary on the Seven Deadly Sins, after which, in a
, the Sins again pass in review and file out in their original order: led by Pride and ending with Sloth.
The Seven Deadly Sins