Another fine marimba composition in Pius Cheung’s series of etudes, “Etude in E-flat Minor” is well crafted, technically challenging (yet idiomatic), and musically satisfying for the performer and audience alike. He states in the program notes that his “Etude in E Major” and this etude were composed together as a set. This etude is an “extremely tonal fugue” based on the theme of his “Etude in E Major.”
Cheung explains he did not include markings (stickings or musical), as there are so many ways to interpret the piece and he did not want to limit the pp performer’s imagination. This piece is challenging, but attainable by advanced undergraduate and graduate students.
It is appropriate for recital or jury programming, as well as professional performances. The technical challenges are one aspect of consideration, but the musical interpretation choices require a mature player who understands how to communicate and perform contrapuntal material. The musical and compositional quality of this work is excellent.