Thursday, November 12, 2009

A suite of poems

Today, in the usual Thursday-noon recital, a fellow-piano-major and I played Debussy's beautiful Petite Suite for piano, four hands. For the first two movements I played the upper part and he the lower, and for the other two, we switched places. We received a good deal of very flattering praise; it was, by all accounts, a pronounced success.

The suite, and some of the things Mr. Schene has said about it, were still turning over in my head after the recital; and when I got home I wrote down this little "suite" of verses. The music can be found on youtube (I'll put links in the titles). My readers may listen to them, and tell me how accurate my little images are.

Petite Suite
(Hommage á Claude Debussy)

I. En Bateau

The paddles slice the waters silently,
And in the peaceful golden light of noon
We glide along the river easily,
Far from the faintest thought of dark or ruin;
No ripples on the glassy water lie
To mar its softly pointillistic gleam,
And even the breeze sings, as it whispers by,
A tune I half-remember from a dream...

II. Cortége

The fairy-flutes are piping, far and high,
Sweet as the laughter of the elfin crowd,
And as their small procession marches by,
We cannot help but smile at them - so proud,
Tossing their braids, or curly-tops held tall,
Waving the spoil of a successful raid,
Flowers and nuts from some King Squirrel's hall,
Borne in a gay victorious child-parade.

III. Menuet

Cast off that melancholy from your face!
Upheld by an enchanting violin,
The pairs advance with charming ancient grace;
The minuet is going to begin.
The pipe and viol their harmonies unfurl;
Across the sward they sweep unerringly -
Balance together, step and step and twirl,
And we dream on, lulled by the melody.

IV. Ballet

One rich-voiced cello guides the airy tune,
And trippingly the children whirl away,
Carefree small fairy folk, beneath the moon,
Light-footed, lighter-hearted, bright and gay -
Until the waltz, with passionate romance
(That music is inebriety divine!)
Lifts us, who love, aloft into the dance,
Soaring on wings of song, of love and wine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking the silence...

I decided to come back to my poor neglected blog to tell a bit about the concert in which I sang on Sunday. The Webster Chorale joined the St. Louis Chamber Chorus to sing a concert which we called "Music of the Fall," referring not only to the season we happen to be in, but to the Fall of Man and death, as well as falling in love!

The Chamber Chorus (some fifty, I believe) took the stage first for a wonderful rendition of the Missa "Durch Adams Fall" by Christoph Bernhard (based on the motet, "Since Adam's Fall".) Then they filed off and the sixteen Chorale members sang our two Hungarian motets: Lajos Bardos' Libera Me, which moved with only a second's pause into Gyorgy Orban's Daemon Irrepit Callidus, a wonderful Latin rhyme about how the devil, the flesh and the world, despite all the fair things they give, are worth less to the heart than Jesus is. The Chamber Chorus joined us for Michael East's beautiful love madrigal, I Fall and Then I Rise Again Aloft, and they finished the first half with Mein Odem ist Schwach, (My Breath is Corrupt), the first of Max Reger's Drei Motetten, op. 110 - a huge work and seldom performed in its entirety. The second half began with the second motet, Ach, Herr, strafe mich nicht (Ah, Lord, strike me not.) The Chamber Chorus performed this and their world premiere of a commissioned piece, Slow Gold by Claire Maclean, alone; then we performed our Funeral Sentences by Henry Purcell, and all together we finished the program with the third motet: O Tod, wie bitter bist du, (O Death, how bitter thou art!)