Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Seven Songs on Poems

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Seven Songs on Poems

Article excerpt

Seven Songs on Poems by Theodore Roethke, Op. 149 (2005). Baritone or Tenor.

5. "It Was Beginning Winter." D minor; F^sub 4^-G^sub 5^; Tess: M; 3/4, 4/4, Medium; V/M, P/M; 3½ pages.

6. "Night Crow" B^sup [musical flat]^ minor; D^sup [musical flat]^^sub 4^-F^sub 5^; Tess: M; 3/2, Slow; V/M, P/mE; 1+ pages.

The contrast between light and dark in these two poems presents itself in palpable images of the light over a frozen field on the snow of early winter and the black crow flapping aloft from a dead tree. Both images in nature call up mental images from distant memory and from the dark depths of the brain. The composer has successfully translated the images of light moving over a frozen field in early winter ("Was it light? Was it light within? Was it light within light?") and of the "moonless black, deep in the brain, far back" into musical images that enhance the meaning of the texts.

In "It Was Beginning Winter" the vocal line carries a melody that expresses the circling nature of the poet's thoughts about this light that seems both natural and unnatural, and at the same time allows for both word rhythm and melodic rhythm that mirror the motion of the poetic thought. A great deal of the piano part lies in the treble clef where an ostinato circling sixteenth note figure in the right hand spools downward through four chords with a left hand rocking figure over a pedal point on D. …

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