Christos Hatzis: Four Songs on Poems by Elizabeth Bishop (Soprano & Chamber Orchestra)
Soprano & Chamber Orchestra
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About the work:
Four Songs on Poems by Elizabeth Bishop was commissioned by Canadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc to celebrate the centenary of the birth of American poet and short story writer Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979). In this work, Hatzis set a selection of four poems by Bishop: I Am in Need of Music, Insomnia, The Unbeliever and Anaphora. While this set of songs is very eclectic, the musical styles of each song is based almost entirely on vernacular musical idioms.
What ties these four contrasting songs together is the relationship of the keys. The first two songs, I Am in Need of Music and Insomnia are both set in C major and are associated with the parallel supertonic D major. In the first song the “big band” segment appears in the supertonic while in the second, Hatzis employs antiphonal writing to offset the last two lines in the first two six-line stanzas. By suspending the supertonic in these remaining two lines, the answer then appears in the form of an instrumental line, in the tonic of C major. The third song, The Unbeliever, begins in C major before transforming into pervasive chromaticism, while the strophic writing of the last poem, Anaphora, is set in the key of D major, the supertonic of the first two songs. This creates a sense of overall tension and cohesion both within and between the songs in this work.
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