I have admired soprano Pamela Jordan Schiffer's musical artistry for many years, and this piece was composed with her voice very much in mind. The haunting poems of Anna Akhmatova (1889-1996) say much in few words. Recurring themes within her verse often convey to me dual, out-of-time perspectives -- of youth and age, of vulnerability and worldly irony, or of anticipation and bittersweet recollection. While frequently triggered by what Akhmatova called "meetings" (complex, evolving relationships, often with an absent, disappointing lover) the scope of Akhmatova's vision is broad rather than introspective, and metaphorical parallels to the travails of twentieth century Russia, in particular, of humanity in general, are ever present.
These intertwining perspectives suggested to me the concept of interwoven double songs. Within the first and third songs of this cycle, one prerecorded narrated and sung poem (the voice of soprano Tiffany Blake) that unfolds within the computer part "envelopes," "swirls around" or comments upon the poem sung live. The cello line and the "instrumental" portions of the computer part ebb and flow between these mirroring voices and perspectives. Within the middle song, the more virtuosic cello part assumes the alter ego role.
PDF score excerpt
IN: a rapid, explosive inhalation
MP3 audio excerpt
This work was premiered by Pamela Jordan Schiffer and cellist Lori Barnett on the Contemporary Music Forum series at the Corcoran Gallery in Washngton D.C. on April 5, 2001. It has subsequently been performed in Rochester and elsewhere.
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