VISIT WESTCORKMUSIC.IE

LATEST ADDITION TO THE ARCHIVE

Apparition

George Crumb (b. 1929)

Composer
George Crumb (b. 1929)
Composition Year
1979
Work Movements
1.The Night is Silence under Many a Star. Vocalise 1: Summer Sounds
2. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom
3. Dark Mother Always Gliding Near with Soft Feet. Vocalise 2: Invocation
4. Approach Strong Deliveress. Vocalise 3: Death Carol - Song of the Nightbird
5. Come Lovely and Soothing Death
6. The Night in Silence under Many a Star
Artists
Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Elegiac Songs and Vocalises for Soprano and Amplified Piano on texts from Walt Whitman’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d [1979]

To a chamber music audience George Crumb is best known for his electric string quartet Black Angels - Thirteen images from the dark land, conceived as a kind of parable of our troubled times in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and performed with multiple special effects. Apparition is a very different work though not without its unusual sounds as the piano is prepared in such a way that plucking, strumming and drumming of the strings by hand is readily audible to the audience. The soprano also gets involved in the theatrics, imitating birdsong and forest murmurs, whispering and humming and singing into the piano for added resonance.

 

The text is taken from Walt Whitman’s great poem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, written in the weeks following the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. However Crumb chooses most of his text from a section sub-titled Death Carol, which moves away from the direct references to Lincoln and contains a moving meditation on death, in particular his idea of the circularity of life and death. The literary and musical materials focus on concise, highly contrasting metaphors for existence and death…but death is never depicted as an ending of life. Instead it is circular, always a beginning or an enriched return to a universal life-force.

A zither-like plucked piano opens the cycle with hypnotic sounds evoking Nature. The text is highly symbolic, speaking of eternity, time, consciousness  and the intimate cycle of life and death. The first vocalise echoes birdsong in summer. When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d sadly recalls Lincoln’s assassination. Dark mother is a reverential chant to the constant presence of Death – always gliding near with soft feet.

Invocation is harsh and primal with savage blows from the piano and a terrifying vocalise from the singer, leading directly to the driving march of Approach strong deliveress joyously singing the dead, Whitman’s vision of death as feminine and life-resurrecting. The third vocalise is the Death Carol sung by the hermit thrush. Come lovely and soothing Death is the most substantial song of the cycle, the mesmerising soprano line rising and falling. Crumb closes by reaffirming Whitman’s circularity of life and death by reprising the opening Night in silence. 

FULL DETAILS SEARCH FOR MORE

Apparition

Composer: George Crumb (b. 1929)
Performance date: Wednesday 4th July 2012
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

Share on Twitter | Share on Facebook
http://archive.westcorkmusic.ie/details/view/cmf/143

Composer George Crumb (b. 1929)
Work Title Apparition
Composition Year 1979
Work Movements 1.The Night is Silence under Many a Star. Vocalise 1: Summer Sounds
2. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom
3. Dark Mother Always Gliding Near with Soft Feet. Vocalise 2: Invocation
4. Approach Strong Deliveress. Vocalise 3: Death Carol - Song of the Nightbird
5. Come Lovely and Soothing Death
6. The Night in Silence under Many a Star
Artist(s) Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]
Performance Date Wednesday 4th July 2012
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Stars in the Afternoon
Duration 00:25:02
Recording Engineer Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation S-solo, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys
Elegiac Songs and Vocalises for Soprano and Amplified Piano on texts from Walt Whitman’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d [1979]

To a chamber music audience George Crumb is best known for his electric string quartet Black Angels - Thirteen images from the dark land, conceived as a kind of parable of our troubled times in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and performed with multiple special effects. Apparition is a very different work though not without its unusual sounds as the piano is prepared in such a way that plucking, strumming and drumming of the strings by hand is readily audible to the audience. The soprano also gets involved in the theatrics, imitating birdsong and forest murmurs, whispering and humming and singing into the piano for added resonance.

 

The text is taken from Walt Whitman’s great poem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, written in the weeks following the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. However Crumb chooses most of his text from a section sub-titled Death Carol, which moves away from the direct references to Lincoln and contains a moving meditation on death, in particular his idea of the circularity of life and death. The literary and musical materials focus on concise, highly contrasting metaphors for existence and death…but death is never depicted as an ending of life. Instead it is circular, always a beginning or an enriched return to a universal life-force.

A zither-like plucked piano opens the cycle with hypnotic sounds evoking Nature. The text is highly symbolic, speaking of eternity, time, consciousness  and the intimate cycle of life and death. The first vocalise echoes birdsong in summer. When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d sadly recalls Lincoln’s assassination. Dark mother is a reverential chant to the constant presence of Death – always gliding near with soft feet.

Invocation is harsh and primal with savage blows from the piano and a terrifying vocalise from the singer, leading directly to the driving march of Approach strong deliveress joyously singing the dead, Whitman’s vision of death as feminine and life-resurrecting. The third vocalise is the Death Carol sung by the hermit thrush. Come lovely and soothing Death is the most substantial song of the cycle, the mesmerising soprano line rising and falling. Crumb closes by reaffirming Whitman’s circularity of life and death by reprising the opening Night in silence.