Chants D'exil

Article excerpt

The three poems that make up this set of songs are from a larger collection of poems by Marcel Osterrieth (1902-1947), a Belgian commercial engineer who spent two years during World War II in the Belgian Congo in service to his country. Osterrieth was also an amateur musician and poet and wrote numerous poems about his time in Africa. His poetry came to the attention of Lee Hoiby through a chance meeting of Osterrieth's daughter, and the composer chose these three poems to set to music. (This information, as well as a complete analysis of these songs, is found in the doctoral dissertation of Dr. Scott LaGraff, Assistant Professor of Voice and Diction at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nagadoches, TX. The dissertation is available online from Louisiana State University.)

The first poem describes fireflies in the African night and fancifully imagines that they escaped from a light bulb. Hoiby's impressionistic harmonies and floating melodic lines paint the familiar picture of tiny lights that float through the darkness.

"Anniversaire" is an intimate remembrance of an embrace that will always be held in the hearts of the lovers. The composer's use of thirds and some sixths in the melodic content of the piano part evokes the closeness of the two lovers, while the rising figures in the bass line gently propel the soaring vocal line in its forward movement. …