Saturday, July 6, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Program Notes for "Classical Music Mixtape"


          From song cycles to concept albums to mixtapes, the love letter of our generation.





     I have been told one too many times that romance is dead. While I may not have a stash of love letters in my closet, I certainly have a stash of well thought out and crafted mixtapes that reveal a plethora of passionate secrets and document a string of love stories. Romance is alive and well, its just in different places. The mixtape is the love letter of my generation.




I. The idealized love/The love spoken from far away.
II. The first meetings/The first touch.
III. The first mistake/The first forgiveness


          *This recital is a response to a series of mixtapes given to me by Kroydell Galima.


                                 I. The idealized love/The love spoken from far away.
                   

1. Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai (Dichterliebe)
2. Aus Meinen Thranen Spreissen (Dichterliebe)

                                                     
Composer: Robert Schumann                          
Poet: Heinrich Heine

             “To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
               –R. Schumann

         “Great genius takes shape by contact with another great genius, but, less by assimilation        than by fiction.” –H. Heine

     Schumann and Heine were idealistic artists who spent their artistic lives desperately seeking utopia. Heine was a political radical and poet known for his style of ironical disillusionment, mixing Romantic descriptions of Nature with satire. Schumann set many of the poems from Heinrich Heine’s “Buch der Lieder (1827)” which consequently became one of the most popular books of German verse ever published.
     Heinrich Heine was the culprit of much controversy. His political skepticism (mainly aimed at the greed and cruelty of the ruling class) led many of his works to be censored and even banned by German authorities. He was a close friend of Karl Marx, though he did not align himself with any specific political movement. He spent most of his life in exile.  Schumann was a literary critic, voracious reader, virtuoso pianist.

In the wonderfully fair month of May,
as all the flower-buds burst,
then in my heart
love arose.

In the wonderfully fair month of May,
as all the birds were singing,
then I confessed to her
my yearning and longing

……….

From my tears spring
many blooming flowers forth,
and my sighs become
a nightingale choir,

and if you have love for me, child,
I'll give you all the flowers,
and before your window shall sound
the song of the nightingale.
       



3. Il Pluere dans mon Coeur (Ariettes Oubliées)
10. C’est l’exstase (Ariettes Oubliées)


Composer: Claude Debussy                                     
Poet: Paul Verlaine

     “How much one must create and destroy whilst trying to touch the naked flesh of emotions.”
                                                     -C. Debussy

                         “The poet is a madman lost in adventure” –P. Verlaine

Debussy and Verlaine were artists who lived as slaves to passion. Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine is perhaps best known for his passionate affair with poet, Arthur Rimbaud. When in July 12, 1873, a drunken Verlaine shot at Rimbaud and injured him in the wrist, he was jailed for eighteen months. In prison he studied Shakespeare and Cervantes, and wrote his quintessential “Romance sans paroles.” The poetry of Paul Verlaine had a more profound influence on Claude Debussy's music than did Debussy's closest musical acquaintances. The ever elusive Debussy is perhaps best described by Edward Lockspeiser in his book, “Debussy, His Life and Mind,”

“The only constant aspect of Debussy’s personality was his ambivalence, his constant wavering between violent extremes. Various pen portraits of the composer show that he was tender-hearted, infinitely sensitive, yet also brutal; he was shy and also outspoken; confident, even impetuous, yet devoured by doubts; independent but envious. Even his appearance belied his nature: he was noble, perhaps exotic, as it was thought, yet also a bohemian; he was wealthy and extravagant, as it seemed,  but in reality almost a pauper.  If there is a single key to the many conflicting aspects of Debussy’s nature it is his ambivalence, the sudden and unaccountable veering from one extreme to another to which an artist of sensibility is perhaps inevitably condemned.”

Tears fall in my heart                                     It is the languorous ecstasy
as rain falls on the town.                                it is the amorous fatigue,
What is this lethargy                                      It is all the tremors of the forrest
That pervades my heart?                                Amid the embrace of the breezes,
Oh, the soft sound of the rain                         It is, around the branches grey,
 On the ground and on the roofs!                    The choir of little voices.
For a heart which grows listless                    Oh the frail and fresh murmuring!
Oh, the song of the rain! Oh the sound….     That twittering and whispering,
It weeps without reason                                 That resembles the soft cry
In my heart which sickens. In this….            Exhaled by the ruffled grass…
What! No betrayal?                                        You might say, under the swirling water,
My grief is without reason. This grief…       It was the muffled sound of the rolling pebbles.
It is truly the worst pain                                This soul which mourns
To not know why,                                         in this subdued lament,
Without love and without hatred,                  Mine, say, and yours,
My heart has so much pain.                           which breathes out the humble anthem

 



4. Es Traumte Mir  (8 Songs Op. 57)
5. Ach, wende diesen Blick  (8 Songs Op. 57)

Composer: Johannes Brahms                            
Poet: Georg Friedrich Daumer

          “High on the mountain, deep in the valley, I greet you a thousandfold.” –J. Brahms

     Brahms and Daumer were artists whose work was defined by ardent yearning and subtle eroticism.  Warm, haunting, lyrical, romantic yearning for what could have been; the lost idyll, the unattainable lightness of life. Brahms was famously in love with Robert Schumann’s wife, Clara Schumann. Though no one is sure if the relationship was ever consummated, in her journal Clara wrote of Brahms,

     “He came as a true friend, to share with me all my sorrow; he strengthened my heart as it was about to break, he lifted my thoughts, lightened, when it was possible, my spirits. In short, he was my friend in the fullest sense of the word. I can truly say, my children, that I have never loved a friend as I loved him; it is the most beautiful mutual understanding of two souls. I do not love him for his youthfulness, nor probably for any reason of flattered vanity. It is rather his elasticity of spirit, his fine gifted nature, his noble heart that I love... Joachim, too, as you know, was a true friend to me, but... it was really Johannes who bore me up... Believe all that I, your mother, have told you, and do not heed those small and envious souls who make light of my love and friendship, trying to bring up for question our beautiful relationship, which they neither fully understand nor ever could.”

     Daumer specialized in erotic and sensual verse, both of his own creation and in free translations or adaptations of Persian, Spanish, or Indian sources. The great Persian poet Hafiz was one of his favorite sources.


I dreamed I was dear to you;
But to wake up I hardly dared.
For in the dream I already understood
That it was only a dream.

……….

Ah, turn away this gaze,
turn away your face!
Don't fill my heart with ever renewing passion,
With ever renewing grief!
Whenever my tortured soul rests,
And my hot blood ceases to course
with so feverish a frenzy In my veins -
A ray, a fleeting one, of your light,
Awakens the entire fury of my woe,
That like a serpent, stings my heart.

                                            II. The first meetings/The first touch.


6. La Barcheta (Venezia)

Composer: Reynaldo Hahn  

     An artist who relished the good life, Hahn’s music was the epitome of La Belle Époque.  The Venezuelan/French, composer, conductor, music critic, diarist, theatre director, and salon singer is often remembered by his fellow artists as “always at the piano with a cigarette between his lips in the Paris salons.”


The night is beautiful.
Make haste, Nineta,
let us take to our boat
and enjoy the evening breeze.
I have asked Toni to remove the canopy
so that we can feel the zephyr
blowing in from the sea;
Ah!

What bliss it is to exchange
sweet nothings
alone on the lagoon
and by moonlight,
to be borne along in our boat;
you can lay aside your fan, my dear,
for the breezes will vie with each other
to refresh you.
Ah!

If among them
there should be one so indiscreet
as to try to lift the veil
shielding your breast,
pay no heed to its nonsense,
for we are all alone
and Toni is much too intent
on plying his oar.
Ah!




7. Los dos miedos  (POEMA en forma de canciones)

Composer: Joaquin Turina      
Poet: Ramòn Maria de las Mercedes de Campoamor y Campoosorio

   Turina and Campoamor were two Spanish artists who conveyed the rapture and exaltation of realistic love.


With the onset of that night, She, remote from me, said:
Why do you come so close to me? I am afraid of you.
And after the night had passed, She, close to me, said:
Why do you move away from me? I am afraid without you!

                                                 

8. Jota (7 Canciones populares españolas)

Composer: Manuel De Falla

     De Falla’s work fused poetry, asceticism, and ardor that represented the spirit of Spain at its purest. He was part Impressionist (Debussy), part neo-Classicist (Stravinsky), and always highly individual.

They say we don't love each other
because they never see us talking
But they only have to ask
both your heart and mine.

Now I bid you farewell,
to your house and your window
And even though your mother may not want it,
Farewell, my sweetheart until tomorrow.
Even though your mother may not want it.

                                                                     


9. Le Rèveil De La Mariée (Cinq Mélodies populaires grecques)

Composer: Maurice Ravel                              
Poet: Michel Dimitri Calvocoressi

              “We should always remember that sensitiveness and emotion constitute
                            the real content of a work of art.” –M. Ravel

  Ravel was a sensitive, distinguished, meticulous and mischievous artist. His mother’s Basque-Spanish heritage was a strong influence on his life and music and the folks songs she sang to him when he was a child are among his earliest memories. Calvocoressi was a music critic, translator and close friend to Ravel.

Awake, awake, my darling partridge,
Open to the morning your wings.

Three beauty marks; my heart is on fire!
See the ribbon of gold that I bring
To tie round your hair.

If you want, my beauty, we shall marry!
In our two families, everyone is related!


                                     III. The first mistake/The first forgiveness



12. Sea Snatch  (Hermit Songs)

  Composer: Samuel Barber
                                    
     Barber had the ability as an artist to compress profound emotions into small modules of highly charged musical expression. The texts of “Hermit Songs” are a collection of anonymous poems written by Irish monks and scholars from the 8th to the 13th centuries.
           
It has broken us, it has crushed us, it had drowned us,
O King of the star-bright Kingdom of Heaven,
the wind has consumed us, swallowed us,
as timber is devoured by crimson fire from Heaven.
It has broken us, it has crushed us, it has drowned us,
O King of the star-bright Kingdom of Heaven.



11. Cease, Rule Of The Day, To Rise (Hercules)  

Composer: George Friedrich Handel
Words by Thomas Broughton


     Handel had a remarkable understanding of the human condition. His dramatic genius allowed him to compose music that heightened the expression of ultimate pain and compassion. Handel was a traveller, performer, composer and entrepreneur. He was independent and strong-willed, and although he was invited several times by potential patrons to become their employee, he did not settle down until he became established in London - where he eventually acquired the status he felt he deserved.
     In Handel’s drama, Hercules returns from combat, uncommunicative and shell shocked. His wife, Dejanira, has endured years of lonely uncertainty. Upon his return, Hercules brings home a beautiful young prisoner, Iole, and Dejanira suspects infidelity.

Cease, ruler of the day, to rise,
Nor, Cynthia, gild the evening skies!
To your bright beams he made appeal,
With endless night his falsehood seal.



16. Che farò senza Euridice? (Orfeo & Euridice)
         
Composer: Cristoph Willibald Gluck

     This is the aria that made me want to sing opera.  Orfeo is allowed entry through the gates of hell to retrieve his wife, Euridice on the condition that he is not to turn around and look at her but must trust that she is following him. When Euridice asks him to look at her and he denies her request, she complains that he must not love her anymore. Upon hearing this, Orfeo turns around to assure her of his love for her and she dies, again, in his arms.
     Gluck has been called the "regenerator of the opera". He desired "to restrict the art of music to its true object, that of aiding the effect of poetry by giving greater expression to words and scenes, without interrupting the action or the plot." His operas are simple in design yet powerful in appeal: very original and stamped with refinement and true feeling.

What will I do without Euridice
Where will I go without my love?
Euridice, oh God, answer me!
I am entirely your loyal one.
Euridice! Ah, there is no help, no hope
neither this world, neither heaven.



13. Mein Herze Schwimmt Im Blut (recit)
14. Stumme Seufzer, Stille Klagen (Aria)  Bach: Cantata #199

Composer: J. S. Bach

What can I say that is sufficient to describe the most influential composer of all time? Words are not sufficient but it is notable that Bach turned out a cantata a week. The prescribed readings for the Sunday were from the First Epistle to the Corinthians, on the gospel of Christ and his (Paul's) duty as an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:1–10), and from the Gospel of Luke, the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9–14). The text, which concerns a sinner finding redemption, was written by Georg Christian Lehms and published in Gottgefälliges Kirchen-Opffer.


 Recit:  My heart swims in blood because the brood of my sins in God's holy eyes makes me into a monster. And my conscience feels pain because my sins are nothing but Hell's hangmen. Detested night of vice! You, you alone have brought me into such distress; and you, you evil seed of Adam, rob my soul of all inner peace and shut it off from heaven! Ah! unheard of pain! My withered heart will in future be moistened by no comfort and I must conceal myself from him before whom the angels themseves conceal their faces.

Aria:  Silent sighs, quiet moans, you may tell of my pains since my mouth is closed. And you wet springs of tears can offer certain witness of how my sinful heart has repented.


15. Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes      

Composer: Roger Quilter

     Quilter’s songs are superbly crafted, iridescent with effortless grace. As an artist he was wistful yet powerful, extremely sensitive yet distinguished. There are never any awkward intervals in his songs and the accompaniments are closely integrated with the vocal line.

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup,
And I'll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe
And send'st it back to me:
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear
Not of itself, but thee.