Anges Et Déesses
About this work:
Anges et Déesses (2003) Program Notes
Anges et Déesses was written for the Verdi String Quartet and mezzo-soprano Ingeborg Danz in recognition of the quartet’s wonderful performances of my earlier Diary Pieces.
In looking for texts, I just happened upon a large volume of the complete French poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. I had known Rilke’s German work, but not his French work. I was intruiged by how different it felt despite the use of very similar themes and images in both languages. The poems which spoke to me most directly tended to be shorter and more straight-forward than the greatest of the German poems.
I identified two themes that ran through many of the poems which I liked: the seasons and other-worldly beings. It was this second theme, with its very earthy angels and transparent but powerful goddesses, that I used here. (A few months later I used four of the poems on the first theme for a work for tenor and chamber orchestra simply titled Saisons.)
The first song, “L’Offrande Fanee”, has a varied and unsettled accompaniment, reflecting the desire to please the goddess but also the uncertainty expressed in the words.”Musique” is calm and static at the beginning and end with a bit of nervous movement in the middle - the melancholy of the angel who can do little to help the fear and hurt of the speaker in the poem. The third poem presents a goddess akin to the Hindu goddess Kali: beautiful, terrible and omnipresent. The quartet’s accompaniment is insistent and continuous, with sharp and colorful doubling of the voice part. The final song, “Automne”, also uses repeated motifs to express the soft melancholy of these images of autumn and farewell.
All four of the poems in this cycle are created using the same row of pitches, manipulated in many different ways. There are no common motifs among the movements, however.
Year composed: 2003
Ensemble type: Voice, Solo or With Chamber or Jazz Ensemble:Unknown
Instrumentation: ,2 Violin soloist(s), ,1 Viola soloist(s), ,1 Cello soloist(s), ,1 Mezzo-Soprano soloist(s)