Del Tredici, Batstone & Ashforth: Song Cycles
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL243     Release Date: 2010-08-15
Benita Valente, soprano; Mary Burgess, mezzo-soprano; with players from the Marlboro Festival; David Del Tredici conductor; Bethany Beardslee, soprano; Victoria Bond, echo; U.C.L.A. Chamber Ensemble, John Dare, conductor

David Del Tredici's Night Conjure-Verse is a song-cycle to poems by James Joyce, the second of what has turned out to be a series of works for soprano and instrumental groups. Mr. Del Tredici writes:

“The first idea and, indeed, much of the ensuing technical apparatus for the piece came from the poetic image of the second poem, which is a mirror commenting on what has been reflected in it. That idea was to oppose two like voices —a soprano—the 'real' voice (the actual events before the mirror) and a counter-tenor—the 'false voice' (the reflection in the mirror). Both have the same range of notes although a very different tone quality. This, then, was modified (because a counter- tenor is often hard to find) to soprano versus mezzo-soprano, as in this recording.

Philip Batstone writes:

"A Mother Goose Primer is a dramatic music-word poem. It contains no music which is independent of the words; no words – beyond merely individual lines – which can in any way be thought of as independent of the music. The creation, the arrangement, the composition of the words, the music, and the staging was simultaneous and interdependent.

“A small bell calls the singer (mother, bird, witch, girl, child), on to the stage. The players, playing their usual role in the concert hall, are musicians, grouped to one side and mute at first until, after being recognized, they begin playing tentatively – as pupils. As the flight begins, their role is more active – (although they never really supply support the voice in the usual sense; rather, their role is one of commentary and obligato). Finally, one of them is moved to join in the singing.

“After the game is over (Bandbox!), and the bedtime prayer is sung (Night!) the players again become mute – save this one who provides the echo from across the lake. After delivering a short speech at the apron of the stage our Phoenix/housewife moves nonchalantly toward the wings having left the drama in the hands of the audience. Finally she is called away by the same bell which called her in the beginning.

About The Unquiet Heart, Alden Ashforth writes:

“Although The Unquiet Heart was originally conceived, in a version for voice and piano, at the instigation of the Japanese-American soprano Florence Kunitomo (since turned contralto), it was actually composed with Bethany Beardslee's unique voice always in mind – a fact betrayed not only in the work's pyrotechnical requirements, but in its call for extreme flexibility of coloration and inflection, and a special sense of involvement with words. It was to enhance further her singular vocal characteristics that I undertook in 1968 to re-work the cycle, using instrumental sonorities which I felt would be congenial both to her voice and to the text, drawn from Kenneth Rexroth's 100 Poems from the Japanese (after eighth, ninth and tenth century originals).


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Various Artists

Del Tredici, Batstone & Ashforth: Song Cycles

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Track Listing

Mother Goose Primer
Philip Batstone
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Night Conjure-Verse: I. Simples
David Del Tredici
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Night Conjure-Verse: II. A Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight
David Del Tredici
Buy
The Unquiet Heart
Alden Ashforth
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