Earl Kim

Composer(s): Earl Kim
Album Title: Exercises en Route/ Now and Then/ Three Poems in French/ Dear Linda 
Cat. No.: 80561
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 04/2001
Description: Benita Valente, soprano; Karol Bennett, soprano; Eva Kim, narrator; Metamorphosen Chamber Ensemble, Scott Yoo, director

"I am reducing everything to its maximum."
-Earl Kim

The four works on this disc, the first devoted solely to the music of Earl Kim (1920-1998), show him to be a master of interior passion, with an exacting sense of sonority, harmony, and pacing. His spare, elegantly sculpted music combines elusiveness, ambiguity, and ellipses with a restrained romanticism, yielding works of troubled stillness and abiding beauty.

Kim was deeply attracted to the human voice; most of his output features it. For his texts, he turned most often to the works of Samuel Beckett. In Beckett's words-with their permuted repetitions, beautifully crystallized images, and subdued, enigmatic tone-Kim found an aesthetic parallel to his musical visions.

Exercises en Route (1963–70), scored for soprano/narrator, flute/piccolo, oboe, clarinet, violin, cello, and two percussionists, is one of Kim's most important Beckett settings and incorporates a variety of vocal techniques, from straight singing to talking and different methods of musically inflected speech.

The cycle Now and Then (1981), for soprano, flute, harp, and viola, is a terse meditation on the fragility of life. He wrote: "The texts [Beckett, Chekhov, and Yeats] which I finally settled on cover a range of poetic images dealing with the death of friends, the innocence and vulnerability of daffodils, the loneliness of one's final moment, and Chekhov's prophetic image of an earth which for thousands of years has borne no living creature."

For the composer, the Three Poems in French (1989) fulfilled ". . . a longstanding desire on my part to do a setting of some texts in French . . . I have always been intrigued and deeply moved by the special qualities inherent in French Impressionism. Composing the Three Poems in French was a way of entering more completely into that exotic and passionate realm."

Dear Linda (1993), is scored for flute/piccolo, cello, piano, percussion, and narrator. Of this work, Kim wrote: "Dear Linda, a letter written by Anne Sexton to her daughter in the spring of 1969, bears the date Wed. 2:45 p.m. It is a letter of advice, confession, and love.  The musical narrative consists of several episodes that depict what might have been the shifting turmoil of Anne Sexton's life. The closing measures take the form of a simple canon when the mother speaks to her daughter of her own mother." It continues Kim's experiments with spoken voice and music, adopted in earlier works such as Eh, Joe and Cornet and the melodramas from Happy Days and Enough
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