Soprano Lisa Delan Featured on THE HOURS BEGIN TO SING
The Hours Begin to Sing, Lisa Delan, PentaTone Classics
The recording features the art songs of William Bolcom, John Corigliano, David Garner, Gordon Getty, Jake Heggie and Luna Pearl Woolf and is the partner CD to the 2009 album And If The Song Be Worth A Smile.
Ms. Delan and pianist Kristin Pankonin, joined by guest artists Matt Haimovitz, David Krakauer and Maxim Rubtsov, present four premiere recordings, three of which were written specifically for this disc.
Ms. Delan states, "To be part of the creative process of new songs from their inception to fruition is an exhilarating - and altogether humbling - experience. Myriadexternalities influence the direction of the journey from the moment the text speaks to a composer until the moment the performers speak the text, but the great wonder is in what happens in-between, in the mind and hand of the composer."
PentaTone Classics (PTC 5186 459)
THE HOURS BEGIN TO SING TRACK LIST:
Lisa Delan, soprano
Kristin Pankonin, piano
Matt Haimovitz, cello
David Krakauer, clarinet
Maxim Rubtsov, flute
Jake Heggie (1961) - From The Book of Nightmares
For Soprano, Cello, and Piano
Poems by Galway Kinnell
I. The Nightmare
II. In a Restaurant
III. My Father's Eyes
IV. Back You Go
David Garner (1954) - Vilna Poems
For Soprano, Clarinet, Cello and Piano
Poems by Avrom Sutzkever
Unter dayne vayse shtern
In torbe funem vint
John Corigliano (1938) - Three Irish Folksong Settings
For Soprano and Flute
I. The Salley Gardens (poem by William Butler Yeats)
II. The Foggy Dew
III. She Moved Through the Fair (poem by Padraic Colum)
Gordon Getty (1933) - Four Emily Dickinson Songs
For Soprano and Piano
Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers
There's a Certain Slant of Light
A Bird Came Down the Walk
Because I Could Not Stop for Death
Luna Pearl Woolf (1973) - Rumi: Quatrains of Love
For Soprano, Cello and Piano
Poetry by Jal?l ad-Din Muhammad R?m?
Translated by Coleman Barks
I. No. 1359: Do you think I know what I'm doing? (Introit)
II. No. 25: Friend, our closeness is this...
III. No. 1242: During the day I was singing with you.
IV. No. 388: I would love to kiss you.
V. No. 1797: We are walking through a garden.
VI. No. 1246: The minute I heard my first love story...
VII. No. 36: When I am with you...
VIII. No. 64: When I die, lay out the corpse.
IX. No. 91: The breeze at dawn...
X. No. 1359: Do you think I know what I'm doing? (Finale)
William Bolcom (1938) - Five Cabaret Songs
For Soprano and Piano
Poems by Arnold Weinstein
Song of Black Max (As Told by the de Kooning Boys)
At the Last Lousy Moments of Love
Angels Are the Highest Form of Virtue
Total playing time = 1:18:49
About the Works:
From The Book of Nightmares
This song cycle is based on four poems from The Book of Nightmares, a magnificent volume by the great American poet Galway Kinnell. Specifically, it is from Section VII of that volume: a set called "Little Sleep's Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight." A young child wakes up screaming from a nightmare and the parent goes to comfort him; this initiates a deep and tender meditation about our brief, impermanent time on the planet. The cello initiates a relentless, unsteady melodic and rhythmic figure that defines and permeates the cycle - reminding us that a sad, haunting truth always lurks in the corner. But this is exactly what makes the love and hope in these poems even more powerful and profound; and this is what ultimately inspired the music for the cycle. My beloved friend, soprano Lisa Delan, led me to this poetry, as she knew it would touch me deeply. She was right. These songs were composed specifically for her in early 2012 and are lovingly dedicated to her.
The work that has become Vilna Poems was first commissioned by the late mezzo-soprano Sylvie Braitman Chouraki, whom I knew through the San Francisco Conservatory. I had completed only a couple of sketches when Sylvie passed away, and the piece languished for years. Then in 2011, while Lisa Delan and I were discussing another project dealing with the Holocaust, I suddenly remembered Sylvie's legacy. We both were very excited about completing the work, and doors have been opened for us ever since: We were very fortunate to have David Krakauer and Matt Haimovitz commit to the recording and premiere early enough so that I could write the parts specifically for them. Lisa and pianist Kristin Pankonin have worked with me in many, many projects, and both knew Sylvie. Most recently, poet Chana Bloch became involved through yet another coincidence, and her definitive English translations and insight into the poems and the poet (whom she knew personally) have completed the magic surrounding this intricate work of vocal chamber music.
Three Irish Folksong Settings
In 1982, I composed Pied Piper Fantasy for flute and orchestra, a piece with stage action, inspired by the virtuosity of James Galway on the flute and the tin whistle. That was a fairy tale work, bubbling with the humorous, sometimes sardonic personality of Mr. Galway himself. Six years later, I tried to explore the more poetic side of Irish flute music in these settings of folk or folk-like texts by W.B. Yeats, Padraic Colum and an anonymous author. The tenor Robert White and the flutist Lisa Hansen gave the first performance in New York's Town Hall on June 18, 1988.
Four Dickinson Songs
These four poems were among those I considered when writing The White Election over twenty years ago. I had written what became the main music of "A Bird Came Down the Walk" in college days, in the spirit of Schubert or Schumann, but never whipped it into publishing shape. When Barbara Bonney kindly asked for a few songs to verse by an American poetess, I was grateful to be reminded of this unfinished business, along with the opportunity to suggest the oppressive cathedral tunes and the clip-clop of the hearse carriage in the second and last songs.
Rumi: Quatrains of Love
In Rumi's quatrains the sensuality, spirituality and revelation of his longer poems are distilled into short, concentrated vignettes. I chose ones that speak of passion, love, loss of control; some tell a story, others ask a question, but all reveal an internal conflict or a twist of perspective, illuminating a different plane.
Narrowing down Rumi's many quatrains, some immediately gave rise to simple musical textures and clear melodic outlines, while others were more resistant. Working closely with nine texts I found that they fell into natural pairs, exploring love through loss of perspective, sacrifice, mystery, and the transition between life and death. There was one quatrain, however, which seemed to summarize the whole set, No. 1359:
Do you think I know what I'm doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
This quatrain begins the cycle with solo soprano singing into the piano - with the sustain pedal down - so that her notes resonate in a veiled, sonic perfume. A pair of quatrains follows, celebrating the state of love and questioning the lover's ability to see clearly the world around him. A stately walking bass and a transparent texture in movement II give way to intoxicated close harmonies in III.
Movements IV and V delve into the dangerous side of love: loss of identity and freedom, which the lover can't help but embrace. In IV a nervous, fluttering piano underlies a lover's anticipation and inner dialog. In V a pastoral duet between the voice and cello is abruptly spoiled by jealous discord.
A third pair of quatrains revels in the enigma that is love, its elusive, heady nature. VI is set for voice and cello alone, in a mimicking children's song which blooms in its final confidence. The liquid ostinato of the piano in VII envelops a breathless, pleasurably tortured soprano. The fourth pair contrasts starkly. To death's heartbeat, the voice and cello chant a slow, hypnotized dirge. A spirited, bare-bones tango follows, imploring the lover to embrace both worlds wide-eyed.
Quatrain No. 1359 returns to frame the cycle, all three instruments now emphatically unified in declaiming the folly of trying to know anything about love.
-Luna Pearl Woolf
Five Cabaret Songs
One day in the 1950's Arnold [Weinstein] was visiting his friend Willem de Kooning's studio. Bill's brother had come to visit from Rotterdam, where they both had grown up - they had not seen each other for 30 years - and for Arnold's benefit they reminisced about the bohemian life in their home city in the 1930's. (Much of medieval Rotterdam was bombed flat by the Nazis in the Second World War and rebuilt in the fifties in the same ugly style as much of Germany.) The artists' and prostitutes' section of the city was the same quarter, with a lively street life. One of the most picaresque characters on the Rotterdam streets was "Zwarte Max": Black Max is his portrait "as told by the de Kooning boys."
Can't Sleep and At the Last Lousy Moments of Love are connected by a disturbing middle C on the piano, which takes us on a fast-forward cinematic jump to the end of the already tenuous relationship we see in the first song's lyric.
Angels are the Highest Form of Virtue, written for Barbara Harris, is a slightly amplified translation of something the famously religious composer Olivier Messiaen said at the Paris Conservatory after he and his wife-to-be Yvonne Loriod had performed "Visions de l'Amen" for the musical-esthetics class he taught. (Messiaen's original words in French, if memory serves, were: "Il y a trois especes de divinité au monde - les Anges, les Saints, et les Oiseaux - ah les oiseaux, je les aime parce qu'ils sont tout petits!")