Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Other Solo Songs with Piano

  • A Daughter of Eve: 2004: Soprano (Mezzo) and Piano: Christina Rossetti: 10 min.
  • Three Swinburne Songs: 1998: Soprano and Piano: C.A. Swinburne: 8 min.
  • Five Ceremonies for Christmas: 1995-1997: Soprano (Tenor) and Piano, Robert Herrick, 10 min. 30 sec.
  • Three Nocturnes: Soprano and Piano: 1994: Shelley, Drayton, Tennyson: 6 min.
I should say, to begin, that all of the songs in this posting were premiered by my wife and muse, Elise B├ędard, whose counsel and support in all things have been invaluable to me

A Daughter of Eve follows the Swinburne songs and is, in part a reaction to them. The Three Swinburne Songs are big, romantic and dramatic in response to Swinburne's virtuosic poetry. He was an iconoclast of the first order, shocking the Victorian world with the subject matter of some of his poems. Three Swinburne Songs require of the singer sustained dramatic singing and theatrical lyricism.  
A Daughter of Eve, on the other hand, is written on an intimate scale although it ends with the ecstatic Birthday. Christina Rossetti's poetry is heartbreaking but strangely reserved, hardly surprising when one remembers her story. She was the sister of poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. She fell in love, was jilted, then lived out the rest of her as a kind of nun. The five songs of A Daughter of Eve would be perfect recital material for an accomplished young soprano or mezzo.

It is difficult to find repertoire to sing as a soloist in the Holiday Season, especially with piano. Five Ceremonies for Christmas were written to fill this need. Two of the Five Ceremonies for Christmas are religious. The other three are Herrick's remarkable poetic descriptions of ancient English Christmas traditions (the yule log, the pea and the bean, taking down decorations etc.) The songs are sometimes humorous and sometimes pious. I wrote Oh, Little Child as a stand alone song and it was so well received that I found the texts for four other songs to make a set. 

When I first resolved to begin composing "in a serious way" there was no doubt in my mind that Art Song would be my initial medium. I had numerous false starts that found their way into the trash. I finally got a handle on what I was doing and The Three Nocturnes are the result. I chose these three out of several that I was working on to make a set for Elise to sing at McMaster. She asked me to chose the best ones, and these were them. The rest I discarded.  I think, even now, that they are lovely little songs. Of Sweet and Low I am still particularly fond and it will make its way into a suite which I am arranging for orchestra.

All these songs are available, most in high and medium keys. Please contact me at at this address.

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