Summer music


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Samuel Barber: Four Songs, Op. 13: III.
Sure on this Shining Night
Text by James Agee

Sure on this Shining Night

Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder
       wand’ring far alone
Of shadows on the stars.

I love the limpid rhythm of the opening of Ravel’s Piano Trio, its time signature is a rather unusual undefined. Aha! you’ll say, that’s the same as undefined but you’d be wrong because Ravel divides up his eight quavers into 3+3+2 rather than the traditional 4 x 2.

Pantoum? It’s a Malaysian verse form; there’s a famous French example by Baudelaire, his Harmonie du soir which consists of several verses of four lines each, with lines 2 and 4 of one verse becoming lines 1 and 3 of the next (a real challenge for a poet that Baudelaire rises to magnificently). The Ravel is a complex and brilliant scherzo but is it possible to detect the musical equivalent of the verse form?

ModéréPantoum: Assez vif
Passacaille: Très largeFinal: Animé

Anatoly Lyadov has had something of a negative press – he’s become famous for being lazy. Whether this fame is justified or not (and several people argue it’s not), when he did get round to composing the results were pretty impressive. The source of this Enchanted Lake was the landscapes of Arseny Meshchersky:

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1 thought on “Summer music

  1. Chris,
    Taking the opportunity of spreading the word what is more appropriate than Mathias’s “Helios” to lighten our gloom ?


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