From Poetry to Song


Friday, April 28, 2017, 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 30, 2017 4:00 PM
Christ Church Easton

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We conclude our concert season with a medley of songs that portrays the power of music and poetry, and shows the transformation from youthful love and folly to mature nostalgia and regret. Brahms Liebeslieder waltzes are a collection of love songs in Ländler (folk dance) style for voices and piano.  Brahms was searching for a new project to equal the popularity of some previous piano-based chamber music. He settled on a romantic song cycle, his sophisticated, delightful Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52. They were written about love for entertainment at social occasions. The songs are simple stories and explore the entire range of the subject of love, with its passionate outbursts, brooding melancholy and feelings of deep devotion.

Randall Thompson’s Frostiana  is a seven-movement choral piece based on the text of seven of Robert Frost’s poems:  It has the same appealing, colloquial elements found in Frost’s poetry but with the additional layer of musical language. The genius of Thompson's setting is in the way it mirrors Frost's poetry. At his best ,Thompson has some of the qualities of Frost, reaching his audience in a plain-spoken direct idiom which is appealing after the complexities of much of this century.

Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair arranged by Rene Clausen, is a traditional folk song first known in the Appalachian Mountains region of the United States in 1915, but most probably originating from Scotland,  which rooted itself in the traditional American folk music canon. The subject matter of this folk song is about a girl whose lover has failed to return.

Fern Hill by John Corigliano is about the poet's "young and easy" summers at his family's farm, a blithe poem, which sings joyously of youth and its keen perceptions. Dylan Thomas, one of the major poets of the last century, is often difficult to understand-partly because the text was inspired so much by his personal life and partly because he used words in odd ways because he loved their sound, making the effect striking or memorable or just plain clever. However, as Corigliano understood, Thomas’ poems can be enjoyed to a great extent simply for their musical sounds—they are far better when read or sung aloud.