Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Seed of Dream

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Seed of Dream

Article excerpt

Lori Laitman, The Seed of Dream. Mezzo soprano or baritone, cello and piano (poet, Abraham Sutzkever). Enchanted Knickers Music, publisher, 2004. Available through Classical Vocal Reprints. "I Lie in this Coffin" (B3-ES); "A Load of Shoes" (B^-ES); "To My Child" (CVE^); "Beneath the Whiteness of Your Stars" (B^-E5); "No Sad Songs" (C4-D#5).

The Seed of Dream premiered for the Music of Remembrance in 2005. Laitman has set the Yiddish language poems of Abraham Sutzkever, a survivor from the Vilna Ghetto, and which have been translated by Pulitzer prize winning C. K. Williams ("I Lie in this Coffin," "A Load of Shoes," "To My Child," and "No Sad Songs Please") and Leonard Wolf ("Beneath the Whiteness of your Stars").

"I Lie in this Coffin" opens with a low and ominous octave intonation in the piano, with the voice entering quietly above; the narrator describes the experience of hiding from the Nazis in a coffin. The cello is introduced in the seventh measure, reinforcing the aura of dread. The poet cries out to his dead sister, with the cello echoing his plaintive cries. A long accelerando moves the song into a brighter and more stable tonality. The disjunct melody and ominous harmony return, but then a wordless melisma ends the piece, sweetly invoking the comforting spirit of the man's sister. "A Load of Shoes" is a macabre dance for singer, cello, and piano. The vocal line lies mostly in mid-range, with chordal outlines in which the melody, rather than step-wise motion, serves to convey a folk-like quality to this sad observation of a cart filled with shoes abandoned by their owners. …

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