Editions Musica Ferrum have been steadily building an interesting catalogue of excellent, premium publications over recent years, several of which I have previously reviewed here.
Among the most distinctive (but also among the publisher’s best kept secrets) are those featuring the works of EMF’s ever-modest proprietor Nikolas Sideris, a composer of formidable musical intelligence and imagination who is perhaps best known for his extraordinary duet collection Fairyland in Treble.
Reviewing the latter, I concluded:
“I must say that this book stands out as being VERY special indeed. It’s truly an essential purchase.”
Fans of that duet book will undoubtedly be delighted to know that its successor, The Dusk of Day, The Dawn of Night, is now available. So let’s take a look…
Concept and Publication
Brought to us by the same team as Fairyland in Treble, with stories by Nefeli Tsipouridi, music by Nikolas Sideris and cover artwork by Marcus Krupa, The Dusk of Day… is not so much a sequel as a sibling to the former book.
The story here is a single tale, spinning the adventures of one Brenn and his homeworld, the planet Cactus. It is a fantastical story rich in character and imagination, and it provides the glue which holds together Nikolas’s ten new piece of music, written for six hands, one piano.
I’m no expert in current childrens’ fiction, but I suspect that my own two (when they were “tweens”) would have enjoyed this very much; Jon would have quickly assimilated all the details of the fully-evolved fantasy world Tsipouridi conjures up, while Ruth would have delighted in the colourful descriptive prose and the portrayal of central protagonist Brenn.
The story is told across Two Acts, a conceit which is further brought to life by the separation of the book into two halves. Reaching the staples, the book must be turned upside down, beginning again from the back, which essentially offers a new “front cover” of its own:
The book as a whole is, like its predecessor, a thing of absolute beauty. Behind the truly lush covers, the story itself is presented at the front of each book half, chapters 1-5 completing The Dusk of Day while the remaining chapters 6-10 make up The Dawn of Night.
The high quality cream paper hosts the music in open score format, the three players’ parts printed together, and with two staves per page, never seeming cramped. I should note here that no fingering suggestions are given, so this matter must be addressed by the players and teachers.
According to the book, individual parts can be purchased separately on the website, although I must confess that I was unable to find these; in any case, I would want all players to benefit from having the full score, and the full 80-page publication is reasonably priced (considering its premium quality) at £15.00.
And the music?
Of course the success of the book ultimately rests on the quality of the ten pieces included within, so I am both relieved and very happy indeed to advise that Sideris has again triumphed in composing music of quality and value, mixing contemporary nuances, catchy melodic content and infectious wit.
With its angular spikiness, melodic charm and simple chromatic shifts, there are hints of Prokofiev at times (no bad thing!), but those familiar with Fairyland in Treble (or for that matter Sideris’s Nelly Cootalot original computer game soundtrack for solo piano) will recognise and enjoy this composer’s own personal voice throughout the score.
You can listen to the music and make up your own mind; here is the composer’s own recording of the collection:
You will glean from the video that the difficulty level is Intermediate for all three parts (although there are easier sections to be found). I would suggest the book would be ideal for players at around ABRSM Grade 3-4 level.
In short, those who enjoyed Fairyland in Treble are bound to love this new publication: the gorgeously illustrated book itself, the engaging story, and best of all the outstanding music of Nikolas Sideris.
Those looking for intermediate music for six hands should snap up a copy asap, while fans of the previous book might find this one offers the enticement to venture into ensemble piano playing, perhaps for the first time!
The Dusk of Day, The Dawn of Night is available now from the Editions Musica Ferrum website here.