Three Rossetti Songs (2006, 5')

for soprano (or tenor) and vibraphone. Text in English by Christina Rossetti.
Commissioned and premiered by Leesa Levy, North Dakota 2006.

Song
Judge not according to the appearance
Song

Program Notes:

"Three Rossetti Songs", for Soprano and Vibraphone, is a setting of three poems by Christina Rossetti. The work is intended as a whole, but each song can be performed individually. The first two pieces were commissioned by soprano Leesa Levy, who asked me to write something that would go with an already existing work entitled "Aldina". I find Christina Rossetti's poetry particularly inspiring, because of both her beautiful language and deeply moving ideas, in which spirituality and nature coexist harmoniously.

The first song, called "Song", is rather tonal and meditative in nature, with clear vocal lines and contrapuntal accompaniment. The second, "Judge not according to the appearance", is faster, with a more rhythmic and modal accompaniment. The third piece is entitled "Aldina", and was commissioned, a few years before the others, by the percussionist Federico Maria Poli. It was composed in memory of my mother Alda Melchiori.

The text used is also called Song. The poem describes the parting from life and evokes, in a lyrical and moving style, some scenes from the natural world, which was very dear to my mother. The title was inspired by an old photo of my mother as a very young child, found by chance in one of her drawers. On the back of the photo someone wrote in pencil "Aldina" (Little Alda). Generally we are not used to thinking of our parents as children; therefore I found this image of my mother as a baby particularly moving.

Programma di Sala:

"Three Rossetti Songs", per voce di Soprano e Vibrafono, è un ciclo basato su tre poesie di Christina Rossetti. Il lavoro è inteso come un tutto organico, ma ogni lied può essere eseguito individualmente. I primi due sono stati commissionati dal soprano Leesa Levy, che mi ha chiesto di scrivere qualcosa che potesse essere eseguito insieme ad Aldina, composto alcuni anni prima. Trovo la poesia di Christina Rossetti molto stimolante, sia per la musicalità del suo linguaggio che per i suoi concetti, che fondono natura e spiritualità in un equilibrio molto delicato. Il primo brano, Song, è tonale e meditativo, con una parte vocale chiara e accompagnamento contrappuntistico. Il secondo, Judge not according to the appearance, è più veloce, con un accompagnamento più ritmico e modale.

Il terzo brano, Aldina, è stato commissionato alcuni anni prima degli altri due dal percussionista Federico Maria Poli, ed è stato composto in memoria di mia madre, Alda Melchiori. Anche questo testo della Rossetti si chiama Song, una poesia in cui, in un tono lirico e pacato e con toccante semplicità viene cantato l'addio alla vita, evocando alcune immagini della natura che erano anche molto care a mia madre. Il titolo è stato ispirato da una vecchia foto di lei bambina, trovata per caso in un suo cassetto, sul retro della quale qualcuno ha scritto a matita "Aldina".

TEXTS:
I: Song

Oh roses for the flush of youth,
And laurel for the perfect prime;
But pluck an ivy branch for me
Grown old before my time.

Oh violets for the grave of youth,
And bay for those dead in their prime;
Give me the withered leaves I chose
Before in the old time.

II: Judge not according to the appearance

Lord, purge our eyes to see
Within the seed a tree,
Within the glowing egg a bird,
Within the shroud a butterfly

Till taught by such, we see
Beyond all creatures Thee,
And hearken for thy tender word,
And hear it, “Fear not: it is I.”

III: Song

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply I may forget.

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