Canciones Sobre el Amor y la Muerte - Programme Notes

            Canciones Sobre el Amor y la Muerte (Songs of Love and Death) is a setting of three poems from Federico García Lorca’s “Canciones” (1921-24) for soprano and string quartet. There is also an instrumental interlude between the second and third poems. A melancholy atmosphere imbues much of the poetry from this collection, written when Lorca (born in 1898, executed in Granada by the Falangists in 1936) was in his mid-twenties. The first song has a relatively lengthy instrumental introduction over a ground bass in the cello, whose repetitive quality is intended to convey a sense that no matter how much familiar ground the pony and rider cover, fate has determined that arrival at their destination is ultimately impossible. [See poem below]
            The second song is melodramatic, and is concerned with the amount of effort involved in loving another. It struck me as a fun, rather silly poem, so I tried to write music that would capture these qualities. [See poem below]
            There follows an interlude for string quartet, titled “La muerte me está mirando” (Death is watching me), a reference to a line in the first song. I was trying to write something beautiful that would convey a profound, bitter-sweet emotional mood, interrupted occasionally by short, passionate bursts of energy by the violin, which ultimately becomes more subdued along with the others.
            The last song juxtaposes seemingly-trivial everyday acts, like eating oranges and harvesting wheat (done by a reaper), with a serene acceptance of the inevitable. [See poem below]
            I started working on this collection in 1988, revised it in 1991-92, and completely re-worked and expanded it in 1995-96. I have also arranged "Es Verdad" and the "Interlude" for orchestra; they are the first and second, respectively, of my "Three Lorca Sketches for Orchestra."
            Canciones… is dedicated to my mother, who died in 1978, and who loved music.

©Clark Winslow Ross

Listen to #2 or #3 (#1 and #4 not available):
2.  Es Verdad (It is True)
Performed by Carolyn Hart, soprano, with the Atlantic String Quartet.   Recorded by CBC in St. John's

3.  Interlude for strings
This is the string orchestra version from 3 Lorca Sketches for Orchestra
Performed by the Memorial U. Chamber Orchestra, Nancy Dahn conducting

[ If the music doesn't begin playing automatically after a few seconds, click from the list below ]
1. Canción de Jinete (Rider's Song)
2. Es Verdad (It is True)
3. Interlude: La Muerte Me Está Mirando* (Death is Watching Me)
*(this recording is of string orchestra version)
4. Despedida (Farewell)

Poetry by Federico García Lorca 
(from Canciones, 1921-24)

(Translations ©Clark Winslow Ross)

I.  Cancion De Jinete

I.  Song of The Rider

Córdoba.

Córdoba.

Lejana y sola.

Distant and solitary.

   

Jaca negra, luna grande,

Black pony, big moon,

y aceitunas en mi alforja.

and olives in my saddle-bag.

Aunque sepa los caminos

Although I know the roads

yo nunca llegaré a Córdoba.

I will never reach Córdoba.

   

Por el llano, por el viento,

Through the plain, through the wind,

Jaca negra, luna roja.

Black pony, red moon.

La muerte me está mirando Death is watching me

desde las torres de Córdoba.

from the towers of Córdoba.

   

ŃAy qué camino tan largo!

Ay what a long road!

ŃAy mi jaca valerosa!

Ay my valiant pony!

ŃAy que la muerte me espera,

Ay but death awaits me,

antes de llegar a Córdoba!

before I reach Córdoba!

   

Córdoba.

Córdoba.

Lejana y sola.

Distant and solitary.

[Back to the top!]


II.   Es Verdad

II.  It is True

ŃAy qué trabajo me cuesta

Oh what work it is

quererte como te quiero!

to love you as I do!

   

Por tu amor me duele el aire,

Because of my love for you, air pains me,

el corazón             

(and also) my heart

y el sombrero.    

and my hat.

   

ņQuién me compraría a mí,

Who would buy from me

este cintillo que tengo

this ribbon that I hold

y esta tristeza de hilo

and this white thread of

blanco, para hacer paĖuelos?

grief, to make handkerchiefs?

   

ŃAy qué trabajo me cuesta

Oh what work it is

quererte como te quiero!

to love you as I do!

[Back to the top!]


III.  Interlude: La muerte me está mirando

III.  Interlude:   Death is watching me

[Back to the top!]


IV.  Despedida

IV.  Farewell

Si muero,

If I die,

dejad el balcón abierto. 

leave the balcony open.

   

El niĖo come naranjas.

The boy is eating oranges.

(Desde mi balcón lo veo.)

(From my balcony I can see him.)

   

El segador siega el trigo.

The reaper is harvesting the wheat.

(Desde mi balcón lo siento.)

(From my balcony I can hear him.)

   

ŃSi muero,            

If I die,

dejad el balcón abierto!

leave the balcony open!

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