Le Soir by Evan-Kassof published on 2013/06/23 23:32:50 +0000 The three songs presented here are part of a project to complete a song cycle started by Charles Koechlin that uses a set of 24 poems by Theodore de Banville. The project was developed by Professor of French, David Evans of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In a collaboration with him and Tania Holland- Williams, a profession singer and performing artist, we explored diﬀerent interpretations for each of the remaining three poems. In particular, it is important to note that each of the poems is in a very old form called a Rondel, which has 13 lines, a speciﬁc rhyming scheme, and a collection of repeated lines including the repetition of the ﬁrst as the last. The ﬁrst poem I set was Le Feu, which I found to be the most serious and emotionally intriguing poem of the three. Because the poem discusses the idea of immolation and disgust with the world, I was inevitably drawn to the parallels with Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen. I chose to draw the harmonic material for this song from the Magic Fire leitmotif that occurs throughout The Ring. Additionally, I thought that there was a sense of almost stately resolve apparent throughout the poem, so I tried to create a texture within both the piano and vocal lines that captured the resolve with which the narrator is describing their own (literal or not) immolation. Formally, the song takes on a fairly standard ternary form with an added coda at the end. The ﬁrst and third sections have similar textures while the middle section most closely captures the ’Magic Fire’ sound of this poem’s destructive desires. The coda is harmonically separated from the other sections by redistributing the poly-tonal structures that are consistent throughout the rest of the song. In the ﬁrst three sections, the left and right hands of the piano operate in diﬀerent ’keys’ that are always rotating but never identical, while the voice jumps between either ’key’ as needed. In the ﬁnal section, the piano occupies a single ’key’ while the voice occupies the other. Le Caf´e is a much more trivial poem and as a result, I was inclined to set it in a humorous manner. The narrative arc I ﬁt over the poem was that of the experience of coming oﬀ a caﬀeine high. The opening tempo marking is ’Caﬀeinated’ and the ﬁnal tempo marking is ’Post-Caﬀeinated’. To achieve the sense of inevitable exhaustion setting in, I employed a continuous canon that has rests inserted each time the subject of the canon is repeated. To capture the sporadic nature we’ve all experienced while under the inﬂuence of caﬀeine, there are also, inserted in a somewhat unpredictable fashion, two other sections of music. These sections are designed simply to be diﬀerent from the canon and are employed at points in the text where the rhythm of the poetry changes slightly. The ﬁnal song, Le Soir, is the most adventurous of the three. Imagine you’re in an opium den in late-19th century Paris. The host of the den (the singer) approaches you and begins to talk to you about what is simply the most trivial matters. This experience becomes evermore intense as the opium seeps through your veins and soon the sounds you hear in the background and her voice have morphed into one overwhelming sonic experience. Just when the intensity is at its maximum, the music returns to its quiet and calm opening The performers are Tania Holland-Williams and Nicholas Wearne. The recording was made at the Royal Academy of Music in May of 2013.