Elided Dilapidations (after C.P.E. Bach)

for solo piano

James Erber

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for solo piano

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Composer James Erber

Year of Composition



ca. 17' 15"

Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-je1ed1


Two of the leitmotifs running through my work are the effect of time on memory and perception, and the creation (however illusory) of a fragile continuity from discontinuity. My large-scale ‘Traces’ Cycle for solo flute (1991-2006) is perhaps the best illustration of the former tendency, while the latter is typified by Music for 25 Solo Strings (Epitomaria-Glosaria-Commentaria) and åNeM (1996) for solo piano.

Like Music for 25 Solo Strings and åNeM (based respectively on a motet by William Byrd and an organ work by the 17th Century Neapolitan composer Giovanni Maria Trabaci), this piece makes use of pre-existing musical material. In this case, seven fragmentary and radically differentiated versions of the Andante from C.P.E. Bach’s 4th Württemberg sonata are segmented and interleaved. Their juxtaposition creates the impression of an object viewed from different angles, different distances and different perspectives, prompting a constant revaluation of an original, which remains tantalisingly out of earshot.

I also like to think that the piece is not simply an acknowledgement of my long-standing interest in C.P.E Bach, but can be seen as a symbol of the welcome critical re-interpretation of his music over the past 50 years, as well as recognising his well-documented interest in philosophy, aesthetics and music theory.