Tallis Variations is a theme and variations based on Thomas Tallis’ (1508-1585) chorale Why fumth in fight. Beginning with a slow, mysterious statement of the original theme, the first variation clings to the original theme, but with a thicker, quasi-romantic texture. In the second variation the euphoniums launch into chromatic motion with a majestic and stately piano underneath. Everything changes in the third variation when the D minor tonic modulates to G minor. The original melody is masked above harsh and edgy harmonies while a G pedal point remains in the piano throughout the variation. The G pedal point remains at the start of the fourth variation, but the mood shifts to a syncopated, jazz feel. Halfway through the variation, the pedal point finally deviates and the piece undergoes numerous instances of modal interchange. After a slight cadenza from both euphoniums, the fifth variation begins with an incessantly annoying piano theme in mixed meter. After the euphoniums and a grooving bass line emerge from the simple piano ostinato, the piece ends with a rhythmically driving finish.
Sam Stauffer Senior Recital, December 12, 2013, Illinois State University; Sam Stauffer & Jeff Byrnes – euphoniums, Nancy Pounds – piano.