for Double Choirs of 24 female voices and 12 brass instruments
(a fragment from the middle of the piece (page 9))
Music in Space
One of the primary features of Everything is..., like its companion piece
Lament (also for double choirs and based on a poem by Rilke), is the arrangement
of the ensemble. The 24 voices are grouped together in two complementary choirs,
each with six sopranos and six altos. The piece may be performed with or without a
kind of background group of 12 brass instruments (6 tp; 4 hn; 2 alto tb) The supporting
brass choirswhich in turn may also be performed independently of the voicesplay
almost entirely sotto voce, which here should be taken literally as meaning 'playing
under the voices', which creates a unique kind of composite sound or texture.
One should imagine both of the pieces being sung in a large, resonant space:
In principle, there is nothing new in this spatial approach. Some of the
within the Western classical music literature which come first to mind are, for example,
the vocal works of Hildegard von Bingen and, more especially, the choral music of
J.S. Bach. Consider, for example, the magnificent opening of the Bach's Motet for
double choir, Komm, Jesu, Komm (Come, Jesus, Come: c. 1727).
The Poem (recording)
Everything is... is based on a beautiful translation from the Russian of a
poem by Anna Akhmatova. The music follows very closely the rhythm of the
poem, using for this a new kind of composite meter composed of different groupings
of 2's and 3's:
Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death's great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?
By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.
And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.
(tr. by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward)
| Listen to a recording of Cliff Crego reading three translations
of poems by Anna Akhmatova |
Copyright © 1999-2000 Cliff Crego All Rights Reserved