Three Lorca Sketches for Orchestra - with Lorca poetry translations
1995; 15' (= 3', 6', 6'); 1 -1-2-2, 2-2, 2 perc., str.
[Click to view or download score]
I don't often recycle old works into new ones (the only other example I can think of in which
I did something somewhat similar is Memory Quilt,
for flute and piano), but I had been looking for an opportunity to make orchestral arrangements of some pieces
I wrote in the 1980's when I was asked by Peter Gardner to provide some music for the Newfoundland Symphony in 1995. Two of the Three Lorca Sketches for Orchestra grew from a set of songs I wrote in 1988 (revised in 1996) for soprano and string quartet, called Canciones Sobre el Amor y la Muerte (“Songs of Love and Death”),
based on the poetry of Federico García Lorca (1898-1936). The third Lorca Sketch is loosely based on Passage 2 for Orchestra, but this is a substantial revision, and scored for a smaller orchestra.
1. Es Verdad (“It is True”) is a straightforward orchestral transcription of the
song of the same name from my earlier set, with the soprano melody given to the English horn. The poem’s protagonist is bemoaning the amount of effort involved in loving another. The mood seems both melodramatic and somewhat tongue-in-cheek (one verse is, "Because of my love for you,
air pains me, as does my heart. And my hat hurts too.”), which I tried to capture in the music. [Click here to read the poem]
["Es Verdad," performed by Symphony Nova Scotia, SOCAN reading session, Gary Kulesha, conductor] (
[Original version of "Es Verdad," performed by Carolyn Hart (soprano) with the Atlantic String Quartet] )
2. Interlude, is again drawn from my Lorca songs; originally for string quartet,
it is arranged here for string orchestra. My goal was to compose an instrumental interlude between songs/movements
that conveyed both the beauty and the fatalism expressed in Lorca’s poetry. The Interlude’s subtitle, La Muerte Me Está Mirando (Death is Watching Me), is a reference to a line in Canción de Jinete, a Lorca poem about someone taking a long journey by eerily red moonlight to
Córdoba on a road he knows very well, but,
although he can see it in the distance, he knows he will never get there (see poem below).
I set this poem to music in my Lorca songs, but this string orchestra piece is unrelated to the song of the same name.
The lyricism of the long melodic lines is interrupted occasionally by short bursts of passionate energy by the violin.
I think of these gestures as representing attempts to break free of the fatalism by exercising free will. The attempts prove futile,
however, and the violin ultimately becomes more subdued along with the other players;
the long, descending string slide at the end marks the demise of the poem's protagonist. [Click here to read the poem]
["Interlude for String Orchestra," Memorial University Chamber Orchestra, Nancy Dahn, conductor]
3. El Niño Come Naranjas (“The Boy is Eating Oranges”) is a line from a
Lorca poem called Despedida (“Farewell”), which juxtaposes mundane everyday acts,
like eating oranges and the harvesting of wheat (by a reaper), with a serene acceptance of the inevitable ("if I die, leave the balcony open"). The character of this sketch is completely different from the others; the mundane is represented by the up-beat sections
(like the opening fanfare for the trumpets and the jazz-like “walking” bass lines),
while the mystical serenity is suggested by the steadily pulsing and hypnotic middle section.
This third movement has no musical connection to my Lorca song set, although it borrows some of its materials from the
second of my Three Passages for Orchestra (1992). [Click here to read the poem]
["El Niño Come Naranjas" performed by Symphony Nova Scotia,
SOCAN reading session, Gary Kulesha, conductor]
Three Lorca Sketches is dedicated to the memory of my mother, who died in 1978,
and who encouraged my love for music. The Interlude in particular was composed with her in mind.