|“Listen (three poems by W.S. Merwin)” for Tenor, Clarinet, Viola, Cello and Double Bass (2010)|
“Listen (three poems by W.S. Merwin)” for Tenor, Clarinet, Viola, Cello and Double Bass (2010)
It was clear to me that, in order to fully enjoy the unexpected adventure without being overly challenged by my lack of experience, (and instead, actually creating an advantage of it!) my writing had to be as simple, direct, unpretentious and utterly sincere as possible. I chose to set music to W.S. Merwin’s poems precisely because they are simple, direct, unpretentious and utterly sincere.
Here is why selected the poems:
Listen is a chamber music work with an occasional operatic flavor. As such, it allows the quartet of instruments to converse freely with the tenor rather than merely accompany him (and more than once the tenor has to play an instrumental role). The absence of a violin among the strings should be noted, and the violin should be missed. I omitted it to resonate with the extraordinary line, “Dark though it is”, that concludes the poem Thanks, but also hovers upon all three poems. I also respond by establishing further connections. At the beginning of Thanks you may hear me hinting at Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and at a Nokia’s ring-tone. The idea is to link the chaotic tuning and warming up of the performers directly, uninterruptedly and strikingly to the “pastoral” opening of the poem. I had fun presenting the Nokia ring tone – our modern-day pastoral tune – through a twelve- tone row (protecting myself from a law-suit by “the crooks in the office”?). I use the Pastoral’s theme again to end Unknown Bird, with the intention of pitching the beloved motive against “those few notes never heard here before”, and, in the process, create a bridge between the two poems.
To purchase a copy of this music, contact Atar Arad at firstname.lastname@example.org
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