Death with Interruptions


by Derek Bermel

piano trio
Mixed Chamber Ensemble
pno - vln.vlc
Commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Music Society Commission Club, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, La Jolla Chamber Music, and LaJolla Music Society for Summerfest, in collaboration with the Bowdoin International Music Festival and Calyx Trio
First Performance
14.7.2014, Seattle Chamber Music Society 2014 Summer Festival, Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA, USA: James Ehnes/Bion Tsang/Anna Polonsky

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Death with Interruptions (2014) is a piano trio, written in variation form. The title, which comes from the novel by the Portuguese writer José Saramago, describes the chaos that ensues when one day people mysteriously stop dying. Soon afterwards Death herself enters the narrative and falls madly in love with a cellist. I was intrigued by Saramago's portrait of death as a character, viewed through a multitude of prisms: the mysterious, the impulsive, the ridiculous, and the dispassionate. A simple melody begins the trio and it moves through a series of transformations in mood, texture, and speed. Variations continually return to the musical heartbeat present in the opening song. Through disparate textures and tempi, the obsessive rhythm emerges as a fixed element bridging musical landscapes. I began writing the work in the months following the passing of my father Albert Bermel, to whom it is dedicated; he was a playwright, a teacher, a translator, and a great lover of farce, who never seemed to believe that Death would visit one day.

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