PROGRAM NOTES & TRANSLATIONS
Since time immemorial, humanity has been fascinated with nighttime, leading countless artists to explore the vastness of night’s enigmatic and alluring qualities. A unification of poetry and music, Art Song provides a wonderful genre with which to delve into the romance, beauty, longing, gloom, danger, mystery, and hope that lies between dusk and dawn. This recital aims to highlight the variety of art songs that have explored such themes, starting with serenades at sunset, and progressing musically through the night by exploring a variety of nocturnal themes until the sun rises yet again. Following “Dusk” and the romance it evokes, “Darkness & Memories” highlights the recollections which can entice or torture as nightfall settles in. “The Bewitching Hour” centers on supernatural creatures of the night, and superstitions that embody the peril and vulnerability humanity experiences in darkness; while “Dreams & Visions” delves into the splendor and magic of dreams, along with the stark reality that follows upon awakening. Finally, “Dawn” explores the sometimes regretful experience of night’s end, while ultimately celebrating the splendor that comes with the commencement of morning and the brilliance of the sun’s first rays.
I canti della sera (Songs of the Evening) by Francesco Santoliquido is a set of songs composed in 1908. Using a late romantic style, the songs are highly indebted to late 19th century opera composers such as Puccini. Santoliquido also wrote the poetry for these evening songs, and his use of nature in the text of each song provides a timeless framework in which to explore the many facets of romantic love. L’assiolo canta (The owl sings) uses sections of lush and lyric vocal writing over arpeggiated piano music, and contrasts them with recitativo-like sections with sparse piano accompaniment. This contrast between lyric and recitativo sections beautifully paint a feeling of hesitance as the poetry admits previously withheld feelings of love. L’alba di luna sul bosco (Moonrise over the Forest) contains a unifying theme of churning triplets in the piano, which add an exciting sense of urgency. The poem muses that the moon on the horizon could be either the rising or setting of love, and Santoliquido explores this insecurity of new love by setting the poetry with constantly changing tempos and climactic vocal lines. Tristezza Crepuscolare (Twilight Sadness) is perhaps the most complicated song in the set, in terms of both musical and thematic content. Describing the sad reminiscence of lost love, Santoliquido uses repeated pedal tones in the piano, a technique often used by composers to represent obsession over a certain thought. After an austere opening, the song grows into a powerful surge that leads into the next section, which describes hearing the many evening bells. Following the biggest outburst of the song, the music seems to fold back into itself, returning to the retrospective music with which it began. L’incontro (The Meeting) is a wonderfully passionate song about the rekindling of an old love. The arpeggiated piano writing is reminiscent of the first song, while the vocal line is more dramatic and through-composed. As the poetry vainly tries to remember the moment when the lovers first met, the music grows more complicated and impassioned. The music suddenly calms, and the poet implores his lover to never forget this renewed moment of love.
Come on! The forest shines serene
the night of the summer and the horned owl sings.
Come on, I plan to tell you what I never said.
And on the path bloom stars,
Let’s get together and there in the thick I'll tell you
I cried because you were not a sad evening.
Let’s get together. A mystery invites us,
Odes: the horned owl sings.
Alba di luna sul busco
Look, the moon is born all red
frozen in the sky like a flame,
The pond reflects this
and the water moved by the wind
seems to shake the ice.
What immense peace!
The sleeping forest,