Four Songs with Ensemble

Stephen Jaffe

About this work:
I. The Sea Wind (Harry Martinson; trans. Robert Bly) II. On That Cool Plane (Robert Francis) III. His Running My Running (Robert Francis) IV. The Depths (Denise Levertov) (notes by Stephen Jaffe from the Bridge Records CD Stephen Jaffe, used by permission): Although I was thinking more of a group of loosely related songs than a song cycle, there is a progression to the texts and the music of Four Songs with Ensemble; from Martinson’s “immortal” sea wind in the first piece through the great depths of metaphorical ocean in Levertov’s beautiful poem, with contrasting verses of Robert Francis interspersed. Each of the four poems is a meditation about some aspect of Time. Francis’ deceptively simple poems and my settings of them are a foil for the outer, more abstract songs; their use here marked the beginning of my continuing association with Francis’ fine and delicate poetry, which often emanates from images relating to the town and landscape around Amherst, Massachusetts (where I lived for many years, although never meeting the poet). Four Songs with Ensemble was commissioned by the music festival An Appalachian Summer with assistance from the North Carolina Arts Council for the Broyhill Ensemble, who performed the premiere in July, 1988. The mezzo-soprano was Katherine Ciesinski. The sound file posted is from Stephen Jaffe's Bridge Records recording Stephen Jaffe. The track is the third song from this four song work. The performers are: D'Anna Fortunato - mezzo-soprano with Speculum Musicae Susan Palma - alto flute/flute Maureen Gallagher - viola Eric Bartlett - cello James Winn - piano William Purvis - conductor
Year composed: 1988
Duration: 00:20:55
Ensemble type: Voice, Solo or With Chamber or Jazz Ensemble:Voice with Chamber/Jazz Ensemble, 2-5 Players
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Alto Flute, 1 Piano, 1 Viola, 1 Cello, 1 Mezzo-Soprano
Instrumentation notes: fl(=afl)

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