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"The Dark Hours" takes its title and inspiration from an early poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, the first stanza here translated from the German by Robert Bly:
I love the dark hours of my being
in which my senses drop into the deep.
I have found in them, as in old letters,
my private life, that is already lived through,
and become wide and powerful now, like legends.
Then I know that there is room in me
for a second huge and timeless life.
The poem anticipates Rilke’s "Letters to a Young Poet," in which Rilke exhorts Franz Kappus to “go into yourself.” It is in the solitude of his own inner world – “the dark hours of my being” – that Rilke finds depth, freedom, and infinite possibilities." Accordingly, the music of the opening movement is characterized by a restless, inward-directed longing. The poem’s encapsulation of Rilke’s sensibilities struck me as both an apt metaphor for the creative process, and a natural fit for the rich, dark sound world of the bassoon.
"The Dark Hours" was commissioned by the Carlos Surinach Fund of the BMI Foundation for Concert Artists Guild bassoonist Peter Kolkay and pianist Alexandra Nguyen. They premiered the work in April 2007 on the Lawrence University Concert Series in Appleton, WI, and recorded it in 2011 for the CD BassoonMusic (CAG Records 106).
Recording: Peter Kolkay (bassoon) and Alexandra Nguyen (piano), BassoonMusic (CAG Records 106), May 2011