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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A work in lauda form for electric guitar, cello and bass clarinet.

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Note : Lauda Rubata a Tre

Lauda Rubata a Tre

Commissioned by the York Late Music Festival this piece draws on the fact that three of Gavin Bryars' musicians, who have played with him in various ensemble configurations over the years, were performing together in the rest of the programme, though he had never previously written for these three players as a self-contained unit. The dedications help clarify the musical imagery.

One part of the dedication is "In Memoriam Chico Hamilton". Chico Hamilton led a number of interesting and innovative quintets/sextets in the 1950s, having been the drummer in the original Gerry Mulligan quartet, and in the film Jazz on a Summer's Day (Newport Jazz Festival 1958) there is a lovely drum solo in which he just uses mallets.

His own groups employed imaginative and unusual combinations of instruments, and in the late 1950s he led a group that included electric guitar, cello and the bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy (though generally playing flute at that time) - and this trio is what we have here. The guitarist was Dennis Budimir (later replaced by Jim Hall) and the cellist Fred Katz (almost certainly the only jazz jazz cellist of the period who, unlike Red Mitchell or Oscar Pettiford, had not stepped down/up from the double bass).

Chico Hamilton died quite recently, within a few weeks of Jim Hall and Fred Katz... Dolphy, of course, died in the 1960s.

The other dedication is to my friend and former student Craig Vear, who had a work in the same concert. I first met Craig I interviewed and auditioned him as a drummer. In the absence of any drum kit in the vicinity, I had him play rudiments on my metal brief case - which would not have been so severely damaged had he, like Chico Hamilton, used mallets...

 

 



Viola, electric guitar, cello, double bass
Duration c. 13'
First performance, Gavin Bryars Ensemble, York University February 11 2009



Since early 2002 I have been writing a number of Laude. Each one features the soprano voice, some unaccompanied solo, some with other voices, some with instruments. They are all written for Anna Maria Friman (where there are three sopranos this is written for Trio Mediaeval, which includes Anna; where there is a tenor voice this is written always for John Potter)

  1. Venite a laudare (soprano solo)
  2. Laude novella (soprano solo)
  3. Ave donna santissima (soprano solo)
  4. Oi me lasso (soprano and tenor)
  5. Altissima luce (three sopranos, unison)
  6. Da ciel venne messo novella (soprano and tenor)
  7. Ave regina gloriosa (three sopranos, divisi)
  8. Regina sovrana (soprano solo)
  9. Ave dei genitrix (soprano and tenor)
  10. O Maria, d'omelia (soprano solo)
  11. Salve, salve, virgo pia (soprano and tenor)
  12. Alta trinita beata (soprano, tenor, viola, bass)
  13. Stomme allegro (soprano, tenor, viola, bass)
  14. Jesu Cristo glorioso (soprano, tenor, bass)
  15. O Maria, Dei cella (soprano solo)
  16. Laudamo la resurrectione (soprano, tenor, bass)
  17. Ve vergine gaudente (soprano solo)
  18. Cristo e nato et humanato (three sopranos)
  19. Omne homo (soprano, tenor, bass)
  20. Vergene donçella (three sopranos, tenor)
  21. O Divina virgo flore (soprano solo)
  22. Fammi cantar l'amor (nine female voices)
  23. Fammi cantar l'amor (nine female voices) - different setting
  24. Dami conforto Dio (eleven female voices)
  25. Dami conforto Dio (three sopranos)
  26. "Plangiamo del crudel basciar" for soprano, tenor, viola, cello, bass
  27. "Lauda vollio per amore" for soprano, tenor, bass
  28. "Amor dolce sença pare" for soprano, tenor, viola, cello, bass
  29. "O divina virgo, flore" for soprano and bass (addition of bass to Lauda 21)
Note : Text of Lauda Translations

Text of Lauda Translations


Lauda 1 "Venite a laudare"

Venite a laudare,                 Come and give praise:
per amor cantare                 for the sake of love, sing
l'amorosa vergene Maria.        to the loving Virgin Mary.
    
Maria gloriosa biata             Glorious, blessed Mary,
sempre si' molto laudata;        may great praise be yours for ever;
preghiam ke ne si' avocata         we pray that you will intercede for us
al tuo filiol, virgo pio.        to your Son, O holy Virgin.
   
Venite a laudare,                 Come and give praise:
per amor cantare                 for the sake of love, sing
l'amorosa vergene Maria.        to the loving Virgin Mary.
   
Pietosa regina sovrana,         Holy sovereign Queen,
conforta la mente ch'è vana,     comfort our empty minds;
grande medicina ke sana,         you are the great cure which heals:
aiutane per tua cortisia.        help us, through your kindness.
   
Venite a laudare,                 Come and give praise:
per amor cantare                 for the sake of love, sing
l'amorosa vergene Maria.        to the loving Virgin Mary.
   
Vigorosa potente biata,         Vigorous, strong, blessed lady,
per te è questa laude cantata,     for you this song of praise is sung;
tu se' la nostra avocata,         you are our advocate,
la più fedel que mai sia.        the most faithful there could ever be.
   
Venite a laudare,                 Come and give praise:
per amor cantare                 for the sake of love, sing
l'amorosa vergene Maria.        to the loving Virgin Mary.
   
   

Lauda 2 "Laude novella"   

   
Laude novella sia cantata         Let a new song of praise be sung
a l'alta donna encoronata.        to the Lady crowned on high.
   
Fresca vergene donçella,         Innocent virgin maid,
primo fior, rosa novella,         Spring's first flower, new rose,
tutto 'l mondo a te s'apella,     the whole world calls upon you;
nella bon 'or fosti nata.        the day you were born was blessed.
   
Laude novella sia cantata         Let a new song of praise be sung
a l'alta donna encoronata.        to the Lady crowned on high.
   
Fonte se' d'aqqua surgente,     You are the spring of gurgling water,
Madre de Dio vivente,             Mother of the living God;
tu se' luce de la gente,         you are the light of the people,
sovra li angeli exaltata.        exalted above the angels.
   
Laude novella sia cantata         Let a new song of praise be sung
a l'alta donna encoronata.        to the Lady crowned on high.
   
Prego t', avocata mia,             I beseech you, my advocate,
ke ne metti en bona via,         to set us on the good path;
questa nostra compania             may this assembly of ours
síate sempre commendata.        always be pleasing to you.
   
Laude novella sia cantata         Let a new song of praise be sung
a l'alta donna encoronata.        to the Lady crowned on high.
   
   

Lauda 3 "Ave donna santissima" 
  
   
Ave donna santissima,             Hail, Lady most holy,
Regina potentissima.            all-powerful Queen.
   
La vertù celestiale             The kindest heavenly virtue
colla gratia supernale             with divine grace
en te, virgo virginale,         in you, innocent Virgin,
discese benignissima.            came down to us.
   
Ave donna santissima,             Hail, Lady most holy,
Regina potentissima.            all-powerful Queen.
   
Quasi come la vitrera,             Just as with a pane of glass,
quando li rai del sole la fiera,when the rays of the sun beat upon it,
dentro passa quella spera         through it passes that sphere
k'è tanto splendidissima.        which is utterly resplendent.
   
Ave donna santissima,             Hail, Lady most holy,
Regina potentissima.            all-powerful Queen.
   
Stando colle porte kiuse         Standing with the doors closed,
en te Cristo se renchiuse:         Christ concealed himself in you:
quando de te se deschiuse         when he revealed himself
permansisti purissima.            you remained completely pure.
   
Ave donna santissima,             Hail, Lady most holy,
Regina potentissima.            all-powerful Queen.

 



Lauda 4 "Oi me lasso"

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,     Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,
ke non sospiri tanto per amore     for does it not sigh with love
ke tu morisse?    enough to die?

Morire dovaresti, falso sconoscente,     You should have died, false and thankless heart,
villano, cieco, pigro e negligente,     villainous, blind, lazy and negligent,
ké per amor non vivi fervente     since you do not live so fervent with love
sì ke languise.    that you languish.

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,     Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,
ke non sospiri tanto per amore     for does it not sigh with love
ke tu morisse?    enough to die?

Perire potaresti si non se' defeso     You should have died, if you were not protected
dal grande amor Iesù da cui se' ateso:     by the great love of Jesus, to which you have turned:
vôlte abracciare e sta en croce desteso,    he longs to embrace you, and hangs stretched upon
s'a lui venisse.    the cross, that you may come to him.

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,     Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,
ke non sospiri tanto per amore     for does it not sigh with love
ke tu morisse?    enough to die?

Transmortisci, cuore, e và gridando;    Faint, my heart, and go out shouting,
e pure amore amore amore amando,     and loving Love-Love-Love;
ke no l'ai puramente amato và dolorando,    since you have not loved purely, go forth sorrowing,
e parturisce!    and be born again!

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,     Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,
ke non sospiri tanto per amore     for does it not sigh with love
ke tu morisse?    enough to die?



Lauda 5 "Altissima luce"


Altissima luce col grande splendore,    Most exalted light, shining with great glory,
in voi, dolçe amore, agiam consolança.    in you, sweet love, is our consolation.

Ave, regina pulçell' amorosa,    Hail, queen and maiden full of love,
stella marina ke non stai nascosa,    the star of the sea which does not keep hidden,
luce divina, virtù gratiosa,    divine light, gracious virtue,
belleça formosa, di Dio se' sembiança.    exquisite beauty, you are the image of God.

Altissima luce col grande splendore,    Most exalted light, shining with great glory,
in voi, dolçe amore, agiam consolança.    in you, sweet love, is our consolation.

Ave Maria, di gratia plena,    Hail, Mary, full of grace,
tu se' la via c'a vita ci mena;    you are the way which leads us to life;
di tenebria traesti e di pena    the earthly race, which was in great peril,
la gente terrena k'era 'n gran turbança.    You have rescued from darkness and punishment.

Altissima luce col grande splendore,    Most exalted light, shining with great glory,
in voi, dolçe amore, agiam consolança.    in you, sweet love, is our consolation.

Vergene pura cum tutta belleça,    Pure virgin with all beauty,
sença misura è la tua grandeça:    your greatness is without limit:
nostra natura recasti a frankeça    you have willingly borne our nature
k'era a vileça per molta offesança.    which was vile through our many sins.

Altissima luce col grande splendore,    Most exalted light, shining with great glory,
in voi, dolçe amore, agiam consolança.    in you, sweet love, is our consolation.



Lauda 6 "Da ciel venne messo novello"


Da ciel venne messo novello     From heaven came a new messenger:
ciò fo l'angel Gabriello.         it was the angel Gabriel.

Nella cità di Galilea;             In the city of Galilee
là 'v'era la gente iudea,         there was the race of Judah,
favellavano in lengua ebrea     speaking in the Hebrew language
in cità et in castello.            in the city and in the castle.

Da ciel venne messo novello     From heaven came a new messenger:
ciò fo l'angel Gabriello.         it was the angel Gabriel.

"Ave Maria, gratia plena;         "Hail Mary, full of grace;
Dio ti salvi, stella serena:     may God save you, star serene:
Dio è con teco che ti mena         God is with you, and he leads you
ennel paradiso bello."            into lovely paradise."

Da ciel venne messo novello     From heaven came a new messenger:
ciò fo l'angel Gabriello.         it was the angel Gabriel.

Respose la kiara stella:         The bright star replied:
"lo son qui ke so' su' ancella: "Here I am, your handmaiden:
sia secundo la tua favella,     let it be according to your word,
cusì mi chiamo et appello."        for thus I am called and named."

Da ciel venne messo novello     From heaven came a new messenger:
ciò fo l'angel Gabriello.         it was the angel Gabriel.



Lauda 7 "Ave, regina gloriosa"


Ave, regina gloriosa,            Hail, glorious queen,
plena d'ogne consolança.    full of all consolation.

Ave, pulcra margarita,    Hail, beautiful pearl,
splendida luce clarita;    clear shining light;   
fresca rosa et aulorita,    fresh rose and fragrance,
nostro gaudio et alegrança.    our joy and delight.

Ave, regina gloriosa,    Hail, glorious queen,
plena d'ogne consolança.    full of all consolation.

Ave, regina adorata,     Hail, adored queen,
virgene madre beata;    blessed virgin mother;
poi ke fosti salutata,    since you received your salutation
madre se' de gran pietança.    you have been our mother of great holiness.

Ave, regina gloriosa,    Hail, glorious queen,
plena d'ogne consolança.    full of all consolation.

Ave, porto de salute;    Hail, gateway of salvation;
ki ben t'ama tu l'aiute;    you help whoever loves you well;
guardane di far cadute,    save him from falling into error,
tràici for de dubitança.    and keep us free from doubting thoughts.

Ave, regina gloriosa,    Hail, glorious queen,
plena d'ogne consolança.    full of all consolation.



Lauda 8 "Regina sovrana"


Regina sovrana de gram pietade,     Sovereign Queen of great mercy,
en te, dolçe madre, agiam reposança.    in you, sweet Mother, we find repose.

Stella chiarita col grande splendore,     Star made bright by [God's] great glory,
gente smarite traheste d'errore:     you have saved lost peoples from error:
reggi la vita sì ch'a tutte l'ore     rule our lives so that at all times
reserviam leança.    we keep our loyalty to you.

Regina sovrana de gram pietade,     Sovereign Queen of great mercy,
en te, dolçe madre, agiam reposança.    in you, sweet Mother, we find repose.

Giardin ornato de fresca verdura,     Garden adorned with fresh foliage,
fosti serrato de forte clausura;     you were strongly locked and barred;
tuo fructo nato non pose natura     the birth of your offspring imposed not nature,
ma grande sperança.    but the great force of hope.

Regina sovrana de gram pietade,     Sovereign Queen of great mercy,
en te, dolçe madre, agiam reposança.    in you, sweet Mother, we find repose.

Bel gillio d'orto, cristallo splendente,     Lovely lily of the garden, gleaming crystal,
L'om ch'era morto facesti vivente:     you have brought back to life the man who died:
se' gran conforto a l'om penitente,     you are the great comfort of the penitent man,
e dàili fermança.    and give him steady strength.

Regina sovrana de gram pietade,     Sovereign Queen of great mercy,
en te, dolçe madre, agiam reposança.    in you, sweet Mother, we find repose.

Amen.    Amen.



Lauda 9 "Ave Dei genitrix"


Ave, Dei genitrix,     Hail, Mother of God,
fontana d'alegrança.    fount of joy.

Ave, fonte consignata,     Hail, sealed fountain,
de la stirpe David nata,     born of the race of David,
più de null' altra se' beata:     you are blessed above all others:
avest'in Deo verace amança.    you have true love in God.

Ave, Dei genitrix,     Hail, Mother of God,
fontana d'alegrança.    fount of joy.

Variò forte natura     Nature changed her nature
Quando 'n te, vergene pura,     when in you, O pure virgin,
lo Signor prese figura     the Lord took human form
sença carnal delectança.    without carnal delight.

Ave, Dei genitrix,     Hail, Mother of God,
fontana d'alegrança.    fount of joy.

Donna, de laude se' degna,     Lady, you are worthy of praise,
ké portasti l'alta 'nsengna, &n bsp;   for you have borne the highest badge of honour:
lo Salvator ke viv'et regna    the Saviour who lives and reigns,
per cui sem for de malignança.    through whom we are beyond the grasp of evil.

Ave, Dei genitrix,     Hail, Mother of God,
fontana d'alegrança.    fount of joy.



Lauda 10 "O Maria, d'omelia"


O Maria, d'omelia     O Mary, of sacred learning
se' fontana, fior e grana:    you are the fount, the flower and the fruit:
de me aia pietança.    have mercy on me.

Gram reina, chi inchina ciascun regno,     Great Queen, to whom all kingdoms bow,
si m'affina la curina quando segno,     if your kindness purifies me when I cross myself,
io non degno, 'n core tegno     I am not worthy; in my heart
tua figura chiar' e pura,     I hold your image, clear and pure.
ch'ongne mal m'è 'n obliança.    which atones for every evil in me.

O Maria, d'omelia     O Mary, of sacred learning
se' fontana, fior e grana:    you are the fount, the flower and the fruit:
de me aia pietança.    have mercy on me.

Ros' aulente splendiente, fà venire     Fragrant and dazzling rose, make me,
me fallente, tuo servente, obedire,     your servant, come to obey you, in spite of my sins;
cum çechire reverire;     may I worship and revere you,
te laudando honorando     with praise and respect:
agia de te consolança.    grant me your solace.

O Maria, d'omelia     O Mary, of sacred learning
se' fontana, fior e grana:    you are the fount, the flower and the fruit:
de me aia pietança.    have mercy on me.

Gran rugiata candidata pur' e necta,     Gleaming white, dewy seed, pure and clean,
anti nata per beata da Di' electa,     before your birth chosen to be blessed by God,
tu m'aspecta ch'io rimetta,     you await my submission,
ch'io sum ciso mal assiso,    if I am killed under siege,
ch'io non vada 'n perdança.    so that I do not go down to perdition.

O Maria, d'omelia     O Mary, of sacred learning
se' fontana, fior e grana:    you are the fount, the flower and the fruit:
de me aia pietança.    have mercy on me.

Amen.    Amen.



Lauda 11 "Salve, salve, virgo pia"


Salve, salve, virgo pia,     Hail, hail, holy virgin,
gema splendida, Maria.    gleaming jewel, Mary.

Or cantiam cum gram dilecto     Let us now sing with great delight
de l'amor nostro perfecto,     of that perfect love of ours
ke prechi pro nobis Cristo,     who prays to Christ for us,
ke sia nostra lux et via.    who is our light and our way.

Salve, salve, virgo pia,     Hail, hail, holy virgin,
gema splendida, Maria.    gleaming jewel, Mary.

Or cantiam con alegrança     Let us now sing with joy
de la bella nostra amança,     of our beautiful lover,
k'ell'è nostra consolança:     for she is our solace:
sempre benedicta sia.    may she ever be blessed.

Salve, salve, virgo pia,     Hail, hail, holy virgin,
gema splendida, Maria.    gleaming jewel, Mary.

Ad te amor avén cantato:     Since to you we have sung our love,
bella, col santo portato     beautiful lady, with the saint whom you bore
facci star dal dextro lato,     let us stand at your right side,
possiam farte compagnia.    permit us to be your companions.

Salve, salve, virgo pia,     Hail, hail, holy virgin,
gema splendida, Maria.    gleaming jewel, Mary.



Lauda 12 "Alta Trinità beata"


Alta Trinità beata,     High and blessed Trinity,
da noi sempre sì adorata.    may we always worship you.

Trinitade gloriosa,     Glorious Trinity,
unità maravilliosa,     wonderful Unity,
tu se' manna savorosa     you are delicious manna,
a tut'or desiderata.    desired every hour.

Alta Trinità beata,     High and blessed Trinity,
da noi sempre sì adorata.    may we always worship you.

Spiritu sancto, amor iocundo,     Joyful love of the Holy Spirit,
ke rempisti tutto 'l mondo,     you whom redeemed the whole world,
tu ne guarda dal profundo     save us from the depths of hell
et perdona li peccata.    and pardon our sins.

Alta Trinità beata,     High and blessed Trinity,
da noi sempre sì adorata.    may we always worship you.

O verace Trinitade     O true Trinity,
fà per la tua pietade     through your mercy grant
ke nostra humilitade     that our humility
en vita eterna si' exaltata.    might be raised to eternal life.

Alta Trinità beata,     High and blessed Trinity,
da noi sempre sì adorata.    may we always worship you.



Lauda 13 "Stomme allegro"


Stomme allegro et latioso     I am merry and gleeful
questo mondo delectando:     when I take pleasure in this world:
ma 'l iudicio rimenbrando     but when I remember the day of judgment
sto dolente et pauroso.    I grieve and tremble with fear.

Pauroso è di fallança     Terrifying and misleading
questo mondo pien d'errore.     is this world full of error;
Signor, faite penitentia,     Lord, be merciful
ke s'aproccia 'l grand errore     when great sin comes close
ke'l nimico arà 'l valore;     and the enemy is strong:
ciò fie a la fine del mondo,     that will be at the end of the world,
ke ciascun sirà remondo     when every man shall be cleansed
d'esto dilecto fetoroso.    from these stinking pleasures.

Stomme allegro et latioso     I am merry and gleeful
questo mondo delectando:     when I take pleasure in this world:
ma 'l iudicio rimenbrando     but when I remember the day of judgment
sto dolente et pauroso.    I grieve and tremble with fear.

Luminosi splendienti     Bright and shining
angeli da ciel verranno;    angels will come from heaven;
le corpora de la gente     the bodies of the people,
tutte quante rifaranno:     every one, shall be transformed:
altri cum tube sonando     other angels, with sounding trumpets,
diranno ai morti: "Surrexite!     will say to the dead: "Rise up!
dinançi al iudice venite     come into the Judge's presence
di render rascion d'ogn'otioso."    to give account for every hateful deed."

Stomme allegro et latioso     I am merry and gleeful
questo mondo delectando:     when I take pleasure in this world:
ma 'l iudicio rimenbrando     but when I remember the day of judgment
sto dolente et pauroso.    I grieve and tremble with fear.



Lauda 14 "Jesu Cristo glorioso"


Iesù Cristo glorioso,     Glorious Jesus Christ,
a te sia laude e çechimento,     may you be praised and worshipped,
ke per noi surreximento     who for our sake
facesti victorioso.    have risen victorious from the dead.

Victorioso el terço die     Victorious on the third day
facesti surreximento;     you arose from the dead:
per unger le tre Marie     the three Marys
de lo tuo corpo al monimento     went with precious ointment
andar cum pretios' unguento:     to anoint your body in the tomb.
l'angel dixe: "nonn è quie;     The angel said: "He is not here;
in Galilea, ke surrexio,    to Galilee he who has risen from the dead
voi precederà gratioso."    will go in grace before you."

Iesù Cristo glorioso,     Glorious Jesus Christ,
a te sia laude e çechimento,     may you be praised and worshipped,
ke per noi surreximento     who for our sake
facesti victorioso.    have risen victorious from the dead.

Desiose lor contâro     Overjoyed, they related [to the apostles]
ciò ke Cristo dect' avea:     what Christ had said to them:
lo lor decto despreççaro,     but they disbelieved their words,
crediano fosse fantasia.    thinking that they were stories.
Poi raparbe 'n quella dia;     Then he reappeared on the same day;
a duo discipuli fe' cena     he had dinner with two of the apostles
al castello d'Emau, apena    at the castle of Emmaus, but scarcely
l'avisar, lo' fo nascosto.    had he revealed himself, when he was hidden.

Iesù Cristo glorioso,     Glorious Jesus Christ,
a te sia laude e çechimento,     may you be praised and worshipped,
ke per noi surreximento     who for our sake
facesti victorioso.    have risen victorious from the dead.

Pensosi fra lor essendo,     As he was among those anxious men,
L'apparbe 'l Signor verace;     the true Lord appeared to them:
dixe: "Non andate temendo     He said: "Do not be afraid
de me, k'io non so' fallace.     of me: I am not a liar.
Sempre aviate in fra voi pace,     Peace be with you always;
et cercate le kiavadure,     seek the marks of the nails;
ke le mente aviate pure:    keep your minds pure,
di me ogn'om sia copioso."    that every man may know me abundantly."

Iesù Cristo glorioso,     Glorious Jesus Christ,
a te sia laude e çechimento,     may you be praised and worshipped,
ke per noi surreximento     who for our sake
facesti victorioso.    have risen victorious from the dead.



Lauda 15 "O Maria, Dei cella"


O Maria, Dei cella,     O Mary, shrine of God,
sia a voi luce sempiterna.    may you have everlasting light.

O Maria, savia d'amore,     O Mary, wise in love,
sì fort' amasti Dio signore,     you loved the Lord God so much
ke de te feci sua mascione     that he made you his mansion
allor ke prese albergo 'n terra.    when he made his home on earth.

O Maria, Dei cella,     O Mary, shrine of God,
sia a voi luce sempiterna.    may you have everlasting light.

O Maria, virgene pura,     O Mary, pure virgin,
porta se' del cielo sicura     you are the certain gate of heaven;
ki per te v'entra non trova mura     whoever enters through you finds no wall
né serrame ke lo retegna.    or lock to keep him out.

O Maria, Dei cella,     O Mary, shrine of God,
sia a voi luce sempiterna.    may you have everlasting light.

O Maria, cum grande pietade     O Mary, through your great mercy
a voi kiamam cum humilitade,     we call upon you with humility,
ke tu ce debia sempr' aitare      asking you to help us always
dal nimico ke non ce prenda.    to avoid the grasp of the enemy.

O Maria, Dei cella,     O Mary, shrine of God,
sia a voi luce sempiterna.    may you have everlasting light.



Lauda 16 "Laudamo la resurrectione"


Laudamo la resurrectione     Let us praise the resurrection
e la mirabile ascensione    and the miraculous ascension

di Jesu Cristo filiol de Dio     of Jesus Christ the Son of God,       
ch' al suo padre se ne gìo,     in whom his Father rejoiced,
e 'n cotal dì en ciel salìo:     and on such a day as this rose into heaven:
san Marco 'l dice in suo sermone.    St Mark tells the story in his Gospel.

Laudamo la resurrectione     Let us praise the resurrection
e la mirabile ascensione.    and the miraculous ascension.

In terra rimasi la gloriosa     The glorious virgin remained on earth,
la vergine madre pretiosa,     our pretious Mother,
santa Maria a pietosa,     holy Saint Mary,
k'è nostra consolatione.    Who is our consolation.

Laudamo la resurrectione     Let us praise the resurrection
e la mirabile ascensione.    and the miraculous ascension.

Li apostoli poi n'andaro,     Then the apostles went out
per tutto 'l mondo predicaro.     to preach throughout the whole world:
La vita eterna e 'l regno caro     eternal life and the beloved kingdom
Dio ne dea per guidardone.    God gives us as our reward.

Laudamo la resurrectione     Let us praise the resurrection
e la mirabile ascensione.    and the miraculous ascension.

Amen.    Amen.



Lauda 17 "Ave, vergene gaudente"


Ave, vergene gaudente,     Hail, joyful virgin,
madre de l'Onnipotente.    Mother of the all-powerful.

Lo Signor per meravegla     The Lord through a miracle
de te feice madre e filia,     made you both Mother and Maiden,
rosa biamch'e vermegla     a rose both white and red,
sovr' ogl' altro fiore aulente.    more fragrant than any other flower.

Ave, vergene gaudente,     Hail, joyful virgin,
madre de l'Onnipotente.    Mother of the all-powerful.

O beata ke credesti     O blessed lady, you believed
al messagio ke vedesti,     the messenger whom you saw,
lo saluto retinesti     you kept his message in your heart
colla gratia fervente.    with devout grace.

Ave, vergene gaudente,     Hail, joyful virgin,
madre de l'Onnipotente.    Mother of the all-powerful.

O Maria, virgo degna,     O Mary, worthy virgin,
priega Cristo ke ne tegna;     pray to Christ that he keep us
al suo regno, ne sovegna,     in his kingdom, and remember us:
per noi sia entercedente.    be an intermediary for us.

Ave, vergene gaudente,     Hail, joyful virgin,
madre de l'Onnipotente.    Mother of the all-powerful.



Lauda 18 "Cristo è nato et humanato"


Cristo è nato et humanato    Christ is born in human form
per salvar la gente    to save the people
k'era perduta e descaduta    that was lost and fallen
nel primer parente.    through our first parent, Adam.

Nato è Cristo     Christ has been born
per fare aquisto     to gain
de noi peccatori;    us sinners;
k'eram partiti     for we had parted
et dispartiti     and departed
dai suoi servidori;    from his servants,
perké fallenti     because we had failed
e non serventi     and not served well
ma desservidori    but been evil servants:
eramo facti     we had become
da cului tracti     followers of
k'è tutor fallente.    The teacher of evil.

Cristo è nato et humanato    Christ is born in human form
per salvar la gente    to save the people
k'era perduta e descaduta    that was lost and fallen
nel primer parente.    through our first parent, Adam.

Summ' alegreçça,     Great joy,
summa forteça,     great strength -
Cristo è nato 'n terra;    Christ is born on earth;
summa forteça     great strength
per cui se spreçça     for which contempt is shown
ben ogn' altra guerra     in every other war
de lo nimico     by the enemy,
serpente antiquo     the ancient serpent,
nostro ingannatore;    our deceiver,
de cui valore     who gives his power
doni a tutt' ore,     at all times
a ki li consente.    to whoever takes his side.

Cristo è nato et humanato    Christ is born in human form
per salvar la gente    to save the people
k'era perduta e descaduta    that was lost and fallen
nel primer parente.    through our first parent, Adam.



Lauda 19 "Omne homo"


Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.

Quanto è digna da laudare,     How worthy it is of praise
core no lo pò pensare,     no heart can imagine,
lengua non lo pò contare,     no tongue can recite:
la verace sancta croce.    the true, holy cross.

Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.

La sua madre cum dolore    His own mother with grief
kiama e dice: "Dolçe amore,     called out and said: "Sweet love,
oimè, fillio e signore,     alas, my Son and Lord,
perké fosti posto in cruce?"    why were you hung on the cross?"

Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.

Dice Cristo: "O madre mia,     Christ replied: "O my mother,
quest' è l'obediença mia:     this is my act of obedience:
ke se compia in questa dia     on this day
k'io moia nella croce."    I must die upon the cross."

Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.



Lauda 20 "Vergene donçella"


Vergene donçella da Dio amata,     Virgin maid loved by God,
Katarina martire beata.    blessed martyr Katharine.

Tu fosti beata da fantina,    You were blessed since childhood,
perké fo 'n te la gratia divina;    for divine grace was in you;
nata fosti en terra alexandrina,    you were born in the land of Alexandria,
in omgni scientia collaudata.    praised for its scientific knowledge.

Vergene donçella da Dio amata,     Virgin maid loved by God,
Katarina martire beata.    blessed martyr Katharine.

Fillia fo de re e raina    you were the daughter of a king and queen,
la beata santa Katerina,    blessed Saint Katharine;
de li erranti gram medicina,    although they sinned, you were their cure;
disputando da lor venerata.    they revered you in spite of your disagreement.

Vergene donçella da Dio amata,     Virgin maid loved by God,
Katarina martire beata.    blessed martyr Katharine.

Stando nel palaçço gratiosa    Graciously situated in a palace,
tutta fosti de Dio amorosa;    you were completely in love with God;
cum gran voluntà desiderosa    so with great longing and desire
a Iesù dilecto desponsata.    you became the bride of your beloved Jesus.

Vergene donçella da Dio amata,     Virgin maid loved by God,
Katarina martire beata.    blessed martyr Katharine.



Lauda 21 "O divina virgo, flore"


O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.

Tu se' flor ke sempre grane,     You are the flower that is always a seed,
molta gratia in te permane;     much grace abides in you;
tu portasti 'l vino e pane,     you bore the wine and bread,
cioè 'l nostro Redemptore.    that is, our Redeemer.

O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.

Tu se' via de veritade,     You are the way of truth,
scala se' d'umilitade;     the ladder of humility;
de te prese humanitade     from you Jesus our Redeemer
Iesù nostro redemptore.    took his humanity.

O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.

Ave, virgo incoronata,     Hail, crowned virgin,
ave, Dio obumbrata,     hail, overshadowed by God,
ke 'm ciel se' encoronata     for you are crowned in heaven,
madre d'ogne peccatore.    the mother of every sinner.

O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.



Lauda 22 "Fammi cantar l'amor"


Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.

Dammi conforto, madre de l'amore,    Give me comfort, Mother of Love,
et mette fuoco et fiamba nel mio core;    and put your fire and flame into my heart;
ki t'amasse tanto a tutte l'ore    may I love you greatly and at all times,
k'io ne transmortisse spessamente.    So that I may often swoon with love.

Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.

Confortami di te, madonna mia,    Send me your comfort, my Lady,
et giorno et nocte a l'ora de la dia;    but day and night, at every hour;
come se' dolçe a chiamar, Maria,    it is so sweet to call your name, Mary,
ke par ke rimbaldisca tutta gente.    that it seems to re-echo among all people.

Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.

Vergine bella, fior sovr' ogni rosa,    Beautiful virgin, flower above all roses,
sença carnal amore se' dilectosa;    you are lovely without carnal love;
amata fosti et se' sovr'ogni cosa,    you were loved [by God], and above everything
nel paradiso se' la più piacente.    you are the most pleasing in paradise.

Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.



Lauda 23 "Fammi cantar l'amor"


Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.

Dammi conforto, madre de l'amore,    Give me comfort, Mother of Love,
et mette fuoco et fiamba nel mio core;    and put your fire and flame into my heart;
ki t'amasse tanto a tutte l'ore    may I love you greatly and at all times,
k'io ne transmortisse spessamente.    So that I may often swoon with love.

Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.

Confortami di te, madonna mia,    Send me your comfort, my Lady,
et giorno et nocte a l'ora de la dia;    but day and night, at every hour;
come se' dolçe a chiamar, Maria,    it is so sweet to call your name, Mary,
ke par ke rimbaldisca tutta gente.    that it seems to re-echo among all people.

Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.

Vergine bella, fior sovr' ogni rosa,    Beautiful virgin, flower above all roses,
sença carnal amore se' dilectosa;    you are lovely without carnal love;
amata fosti et se' sovr'ogni cosa,    you were loved [by God], and above everything
nel paradiso se' la più piacente.    you are the most pleasing in paradise.

Fammi cantar l'amor di la beata,    Let me sing of the love of the blessed virgin -
quella ke de Cristo sta gaudente.    she who rejoices in Christ.



Lauda 24 "De la crudel morte de Cristo"


De la crudel morte de Cristo    Of the cruel death of Christ
on'hom pianga amaramente.    let every man weep bitterly.

Quando Iuderi Cristo pilliaro,    When the Jews took Christ captive
d'ogne parte lo circundaro;    they surrounded him on every side;
le sue mane strecto legaro    they bound his hands tightly,
como ladro villanamente.    treating him shamefully as though he were a robber.

De la crudel morte de Cristo    Of the cruel death of Christ
on'hom pianga amaramente.    let every man weep bitterly.

Trenta denar fo lo mercato    Thirty pieces of silver was the price
ke fece Iuda, et fo pagato.    which Judas set, and it was paid.
Mellio li fora non esser nato    It would have been better for him not to have been born
k'aver peccato sì duramente.    than to have sinned so grievously.

De la crudel morte de Cristo    Of the cruel death of Christ
on'hom pianga amaramente.    let every man weep bitterly.

Molt' era trista sancta Maria,    Holy Mary was full of misery
quando 'l suo figlio en dea;    when she gave up her Son;
cum gran dolore forte piangeva    with great grief she wept bitterly
dicendo: "Trista, lassa, dolente".    Saying, "Alas, woe is me."

De la crudel morte de Cristo    Of the cruel death of Christ
on'hom pianga amaramente.    let every man weep bitterly.

A la colonna fo spoliato    At the cross he was stripped,
per tutto 'l corpo flagellato,    and beaten all over his body;
l'ogne parte fo 'nsanguinato    every part was bitterly drained of blood
commo falso amaramente.    as though he had been a perjuror.

De la crudel morte de Cristo    Of the cruel death of Christ
on'hom pianga amaramente.    let every man weep bitterly.

Nel suo vulto li sputaro,    They spat in his face,
e la sua barba sì la pelaro;    and they plucked out his beard;
facendo beffe, l'imputaro    in derision they accused him
ke Dio s'è facto falsamente.    of falsely making himself God.

De la crudel morte de Cristo    Of the cruel death of Christ
on'hom pianga amaramente.    let every man weep bitterly.



Lauda 25 "Dami conforto, Dio"


Dami conforto, Dio, et alegrança,    Give me comfort, O God, and joy,
et carità perfecta et amorança.    perfect love and adoration.

Dami conforto, Dio, et ardore:    Give me comfort, O God, and passion:
a caritade lega lo mio core,    bind my heart to kindness,
ke non mi sia vetato lo tuo amore:    so that your love is not denied to me:
in me non possa nulla ria indignança.    let no evil indignation be in me.

Dami conforto, Dio, et alegrança,    Give me comfort, O God, and joy,
et carità perfecta et amorança.    perfect love and adoration.

Rammentame la pena ke portasti,    Remind me of the punishment which you bore,   
Amor, e quando a la croce andasti:    Love, when you went to the cross:
fosti battuto et tutto ensanguinasti,    you were beaten and quite drained of blood -
oimé lasso, de tal dolorança.    alas, for such misery.

Dami conforto, Dio, et alegrança,    Give me comfort, O God, and joy,
et carità perfecta et amorança.    perfect love and adoration.

Fosti battuto et spoliato e schernito,    You were beaten, stripped and mocked,
e da' Iudei fortemente colpito,    and strongly struck by the Jews,
e d'una lancia ennel cor ferito,    and you were wounded by a spear in your heart -
e per invidia fuo tal arogantia.    and such arrogance was all for envy.

Dami conforto, Dio, et alegrança,    Give me comfort, O God, and joy,
et carità perfecta et amorança.    perfect love and adoration.

Amen.



Lauda 26 "Plangiamo quel crudel basciar"


Plangiamo quel crudel basciar[e]    Let us bewail that cruel kiss
ke fe' per noi Deo cruciare.    by which God was crucified for our sake.

Venne Juda traditore,     Judas the traitor came [to Jesus]
bascio li died' e gran dolore;     and gave him a kiss and dreadful woe;
lo qual faciam noi per amore     what for us is a symbol of love
a lui fo signo di penare.    for him was a sign of suffering.

Plangiamo quel crudel basciar[e]    Let us bewail that cruel kiss
ke fe' per noi Deo cruciare.    by which God was crucified for our sake.

Quel fo signo ai Juderi:     This was the sign for the Jews:
non cognoscevan suo misteri,     they did not recognize his divinity,
Iuda li feci veri:     but Judas made them sure:
per um suo bascio lo fece piliare.    with a single kiss he betrayed him into their hands.

Plangiamo quel crudel basciar[e]    Let us bewail that cruel kiss
ke fe' per noi Deo cruciare.    by which God was crucified for our sake.

Ad Anna principe el menâro;     They led him to the leader Annas;
inudo nato lo spoliâro,     they stripped him naked as a newborn,
battìrlo forte et si 'l legâro     they beat him savagely and bound him
et fêrlo tutto insanguinare.    and made him bleed copiously.

Plangiamo quel crudel basciar[e]    Let us bewail that cruel kiss
ke fe' per noi Deo cruciare.    by which God was crucified for our sake.



Lauda 27 "Laudar vollio per amore"


Laudar vollio per amore    Out of love I want to praise
lo primer frate minore.    our first Little Brother.

San Francisco, amor dilecto,    Saint Francis, love's delight,
Cristo t'à nel suo cospecto,    you are in the presence of Christ;
perhò ke fosti ben perfecto    because you lived a perfect life
e suo diricto servidore.    and were his faithful servant.

Laudar vollio per amore    Out of love I want to praise
lo primer frate minore.    our first Little Brother.

Tutto el mondo abandonasti,    You rejected all worldly things;
novell'ordine plantasti,    you founded a new Order;
pace in terra annuntiasti    you proclaimed peace on earth,
como fece el Salvatore.    as our Saviour did.

Laudar vollio per amore    Out of love I want to praise
lo primer frate minore.    our first Little Brother.

Tanto fosti amico a Deo    You were such a friend to God
ke le bestie t'ubidièno;    that the animals obeyed you;
l'ucielli in mano a te veniéno    the birds flew into your hands
a udir lo tuo sermone.    to hear your preaching.

Laudar vollio per amore    Out of love I want to praise
lo primer frate minore.    our first Little Brother.



Lauda 28 "Amor dolce sença pare"


Amor dolce sença pare    Sweet love without equal,
se' tu, Cristo, per amare.    are you, O Christ, through love.

Amor, sença cominciança    You are love, without beginning,
se' tu, padre in sembiança;    in the image of the Father;
in trinità per amança    through your loving you reign
fillio et spiritu regnare.    in the Trinity, with the Son and the Spirit.

Amor dolce sença pare    Sweet love without equal,
se' tu, Cristo, per amare.    are you, O Christ, through love.

Amor grande for misura    Great love beyond measure,
di cui nulla creatura    more than any creature
puote avere in sè, natura,    could contain by nature,
di te amar si sa scusare.    in loving you is all forgiveness.

Amor dolce sença pare    Sweet love without equal,
se' tu, Cristo, per amare.    are you, O Christ, through love.

Dolçe amore amoroso    Sweet, loving love,
cum dolcore savoroso,    with delicious sweetness,
di t'è Garço gaudioso;    this poet Garço* rejoices in you;
sovr'ogn'altro se' d'amare.    you are to be loved beyond all other.

Amor dolce sença pare    Sweet love without equal,
se' tu, Cristo, per amare.    are you, O Christ, through love.

 

* Garço is probably the author of this poem.



Lauda 29 "O divina virgo, flore"

O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.

Tu se' flor ke sempre grane,     You are the flower that is always a seed,
molta gratia in te permane;     much grace abides in you;
tu portasti 'l vino e pane,     you bore the wine and bread,
cioè 'l nostro Redemptore.    that is, our Redeemer.

O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.

Tu se' via de veritade,     You are the way of truth,
scala se' d'umilitade;     the ladder of humility;
de te prese humanitade     from you Jesus our Redeemer
Iesù nostro redemptore.    took his humanity.

O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.

Ave, virgo incoronata,     Hail, crowned virgin,
ave, Dio obumbrata,     hail, overshadowed by God,
ke'm ciel se' encoronata     for you are crowned in heaven,
madre d'ogne peccatore.    the mother of every sinner.

O divina virgo, flore     O divine virgin, flower
aulorita d'ogne aulore.    most fragrant of all fragrances.



Lauda 30 "Stella nuova"


Stella nuova'n fra la gente    New star which newly appeared
k'aparuisti novamente    amongst humankind

Stella k'apparist'al mundo    The star which appeared to the earth
quando naqque'l re iocondo,    when the joy-bringing King was born,
stett'e(n) meçço a tutto'l mondo    stood in the centre of the whole world
per aluminar la gente.    to give light to the people.

Stella nuova'n fra la gente    New star which newly appeared
k'aparuisti novamente    amongst humankind

Le tre Magi l'abber veduto,    The three wise men saw it,
tosto l'ebber cognosciuto;    and immediately recognised it;
diser: "Nat'è lo saluto    they said: "Our salvation is born,
Dio padre omnipotente."    God the Father almighty."

Stella nuova'n fra la gente    New star which newly appeared
k'aparuisti novamente    amongst humankind

Ciaschedun col suo reame    Each one of them, with his kingdom,
sì lo prese a seguitare    set off to follow the star
co'ricc' offerte da laudare,    with rich offerings to give him praise,
la qual fo molt'avenente.    which was most excellent.

Stella nuova'n fra la gente    New star which newly appeared
k'aparuisti novamente    amongst humankind




Lauda 31 "Ogn'om canti"


Ogn'om canti novel canto a san Iovanni,    Let everyone sing a new song to Saint John,
aulente fiore.    the fragrant flower.

O Iovanni, fresc'aurora,    O John, new dawn,
molt'eri garçone alora    you were just a humble servant-boy
quando Cristo cum gran cura    when Christ with great care
apostolo te fece e pastore.    made you his apostle and pastor.

Ogn'om canti novel canto a san Iovanni,    Let everyone sing a new song to Saint John,
aulente fiore.    the fragrant flower.

O Giovanni amor dilecto,    O John, the beloved disciple,
Cristo a te se fece lecto    Christ made his bed with you
quando li dormist'in pecto    when he slept in your arms
nella cena de l'amòre.    at the banquet of love.

Ogn'om canti novel canto a san Iovanni,    Let everyone sing a new song to Saint John,
aulente fiore.    the fragrant flower.

La verità questo dice:    The truth speaks thus:
la sua madre, tu' la fece;    his own mother he made yours;
a lie' te lassò'n sua vece    he left you to care for her in his place,
en sulla cena de la morte.    even at the banquet of death.

Ogn'om canti novel canto a san Iovanni,    Let everyone sing a new song to Saint John,
aulente fiore.    the fragrant flower.




Lauda 32 "Omne homo"


Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.

Quanto è digna da laudare,     How worthy it is of praise
core no lo pò pensare,     no heart can imagine,
lengua non lo pò contare,     no tongue can recite:
la verace sancta croce.    the true, holy cross.

Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.

La sua madre cum dolore    His own mother with grief
kiama e dice: "Dolçe amore,     called out and said: "Sweet love,
oimè, fillio e signore,     alas, my Son and Lord,
perké fosti posto in cruce?"    why were you hung on the cross?"

Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.

Dice Cristo: "O madre mia,     Christ replied: "O my mother,
quest' è l'obediença mia:     this is my act of obedience:
ke se compia in questa dia     on this day
k'io moia nella croce."    I must die upon the cross."

Omne homo ad alta voce     Let all mankind with loud voice
laudi la verace croce.    praise the true cross.


Translation Selene Mills 2004-2006

 

 



Duration: 58'
Instrumentation: mixed instruments 3-4 players (bass, tenor horn, clarinet, bass-clarinet, horn, percussion, keyboards) plus 2 works for village band from their own repertoire
First Performance for Installation at Chateau d'Oiron, France, June 25 1993



Peal of 13 bells - 3 pieces
Duration c. 50'
First performance Leeds Parish Church, April 25 2009

Note : Leeds Fuse

Leeds Fuse

Like most English people I grew up with the sound of church bells. The parish church in my home town of Goole would always ring from 10 to 10.30 on Sunday mornings to alert people to be in church by 10.30 (although I went to the Congregational Church, the alarm function still operated). The village where I now live in Leicestershire has an active bell-ringing team though at 8 bells they are much smaller in scale than those at Leeds Parish Church. The various systems of change ringing became attractive to several experimental musicians in the early 1970's - like Christopher Hobbs, Alex Hill, John White - providing, as they do a read source of systemic change and repetition, one of the ingredients of music of that time (Aran knitting patterns were another source...). John Cage, of course, wrote some pieces for bells though these are with carillon, a much simpler technique to execute (and Jon Hassell had some carillon pieces in the Punkt Festival in Norway last year.

But the physical reality of ringing with ropes is another thing and there is an immense repertoire of fine and mathematically complex sets of changes for this medium. It became clear that for me to write another in this tradition would be difficult to differentiate from others, except to specialists, and so I discussed other approaches with the Leeds team - with Steve Ollerton and Jeff Ladd. They pointed me to other approaches: some Italian church traditions, and the very interesting work done by sound artist Bill Fontana in 2005. This encouraged me to use techniques which change ringing seeks to avoid: sounding more than one bell at once, and writing harmonically. This is a real challenge to the ringers as synchronisation is difficult - but I relish the effect that comes from an honest attempt and only partial success! Spending a Sunday morning with the ringers was an inspiration and I dedicate the pieces to them.

 

 



Duration: 20’
Original Instrumentation: 2 pianos ( 4 or 8 hands), string quintet, optional 2 vibes and sizzle cymbal.
Subsequent Instrumentation: piano solo, string quintet, percussion 2 players (glockenspiel, 2 vibes, sizzle cymbal)
First performance: Secession Hall, Vienna 22 May 1983

Note : Les Fiançailles (1983-4)

Les Fiançailles (1983-4)

A sketch for Les Fiançailles ("engagement") was written in 1983 for a scene in Robert Wilson's CIVIL WarS, in which a Japanese bride delivers two texts: one in French announcing a forthcoming aristocratic marriage; the other an old text in Japanese announcing the link between the Sun and the Imperial throne. When I gave a concert in the Secession Hall in Vienna, I developed the piece further to incorporate the special quality of the Viennese string players who played with me, making a concert work for string quintet, two pianos (8 hands) and percussion. In musical terms this related to the Secession Hall's important role in Viennese music, in particular to its connection with early Schoenberg and Mahler, and the writing for the high strings, for example, consciously evoked chamber music of the period. When work resumed on CIVIL WarS in 1984, in addition to the original piece being used for the bride's aria, this extended concert work appeared during a slow motion sequence where, at a particular point in the music, the actress Delphine Seyrig was to read quietly a letter written by Marie Curie to Pierre, her dead husband. The instrumentation has now been simplified to string quintet, solo piano and percussion.



Duration: 10’
Instrumentation: Up to 3 strings and piano.
Published in EMC String Supplement.
First performance: University of Keele, 16 November 1983.



For soprano, tenor and tape
Text: Petrarch
Duration: 7’
Dedication: Anna Maria Friman and John Potter
First Performance: Tape recorded at York University December 2nd 2001, Anna Maria Friman, soprano, John Potter, tenor. For broadcast on CBC Radio 1, December 12th 2001

Note : Marconi's Madrigal ("Se 'l sasso ond' è più chiusa questa valle") (2001)

Marconi's Madrigal ("Se 'l sasso ond' è più chiusa questa valle") (2001)

for soprano and tenor voices with pre-recorded tape

(also for vocal sextet: 3 sopranos, 3 tenors, plus small percussion)

I was commissioned by Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) to write a short piece for radio broadcast as part of the celebration of the centenary of Marconi's first successful transmission of a wireless signal, from Poldhu (Cornwall) to Signal Hill (St. Johns, Newfoundland), on December 12th 1901. I took as a starting point a number of facts about the occasion, as well as knowledge that I had of Marconi through research for an old piece of mine The Sinking of the Titanic. The tragedy of the Titanic was, after all, the first occasion that wireless signals had been used in ocean rescue, and was instrumental in saving many lives. Some survivors were so grateful to him that they expressed the wish, through a collective effort of will, to "Marconi" their gratitude to him.

What Marconi transmitted in 1901 - or rather what was transmitted to him as he was in Canada - was the letter "S" in morse: three short dots. I speculated why he should have chosen "S", apart from the obvious, and true, fact that this would be instantly recognised and not confused with irregular rhythms or static. As I was working concurrently on a second book of madrigals, this time setting sonnets by Petrarch, I thought that Marconi could well be trying to begin one of these sonnets, and there are 40 which begin with the letter S. So the piece begins with the first words of each of these in turn, sung on an E flat ("S" in German), until a sonnet appears which has some connection with the physical situation in which the two groups of people found themselves. I added a distant wind sound in the background as a reasonably strong wind was needed to elevate the kites which were used as aerials.

At the point that the correct sonnet is found, the fourteenth which starts with S, this is then sung as a complete setting, though with a vocal drone E flat sung beneath throughout. The words which are used for this extended drone are taken, in Latin, from Matthew 5, verses 3, 4 and 9 in the Vulgate (3, 5 and 9 in the English) at the beginning of what is called "The Sermon on the Mount". At the end of his life Marconi had become convinced that sounds never die, they simply become weaker and weaker. He was trying, by developing more sophisticated listening devices, to capture past sounds and he wanted, ultimately, to hear Christ delivering this Sermon.

Each time that a word in the madrigal begins with the letter S, the appropriate morse signal is heard faintly, as if all the omitted letters were part of some giant cosmic crossword puzzle. At the end of the piece, as the two solo voices approach the expected final cadence in E flat (moving towards B flat an octave apart, against the held E flat) the drone shifts to an F, effectively giving a plagal ("amen") cadence, albeit an extremely long one...

The radio version was recorded in England at the University of York, sung by soprano Anna Maria Friman and tenor John Potter, who are the dedicatees. A separate version has been made for live performance, for the Trio Mediaeval Sextet, 3 sopranos and 3 tenors, for whom I have written the Second Book of Madrigals. There the drone is taken by the four other voices.

Gavin Bryars

 

Note : Text of Marconi's Madrigal ("Se 'l sasso ond' è più chiusa questa valle")

Text of Marconi's Madrigal ("Se 'l sasso ond' è più chiusa questa valle")

Se 'l sasso ond' è più chiusa questa valle

(di che 'l suo proprio nome si deriva)

tenesse vòlto per natura schiva

a Roma il viso et a Babel le spalle,

 

I miei sospiri più benigno calle

avrian per gire ove lor spene è viva:

or vanno sparsi, et pur ciascuno arriva

là dov' io il mando, chè sol un non falle;

 

et son di là sì dolcemente accolti,

com' io m'accorgo, che nessun mai torna,

con tal diletto in quelle parti stanno.

 

De gli occhi è 'l duol, che tosto che s'aggiorna

per gran desio d' be' luoghi a lor tolti

dànno a me pianto et a' pie' lassi affanno.

 

Translation:

If the rock that mainly closes this valley, from which its name is derived, had - scornful by nature - its back turned towards Babel and its face towards Rome,

my sighs would have a kinder path to go towards where their hope still lives; now they go scattered, but still each one arrives where I send him, for not one fails;

and over there they are so sweetly welcomed, as I see, that none of them ever comes back, with such delight they stay in those parts.

It is my eyes that are pained; who, as soon as it dawns, in their great desire for the places they are deprived of, give to me weeping, and to my tired feet, labour.

(Drone text: "Beati pauperi spiritu. Beati mites. Beati pacifici.")

(Drone translation: "Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the peacemakers.")



Solo theatre piece(uses special garment).
Duration: indeterminate.
Published in EMC Visual Anthology.
First Performance: University College, Cardiff, 6 November 1969.



Duration: c.2 hours 45’ Opera ( libretto after Euripides. Direction and design: Robert Wilson). Dedicated to Richard Bernas. 7 soloists (soprano, contralto, tenor, 3 baritones, bass). Chorus (SATB). Orchestra: 3 (piccolo, alto). 0. 3 (E flat, 2 bass clarinet). 2 (contrabassoon). 4.0.1 (bass).1. 2 saxophones (alto/soprano, alto/tenor) 2 harps, piano timpani + 5 percussion strings (no violins; 10 violas, 8 or 10 cello, 4 or 6 basses First performance: Opéra de Lyon, France, 23 October 1984. Subsequent performances at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées Paris (co-production: Opéra de Lyon, Opéra de Paris, Festival d'Automne). (1995 revision to be added)

Note : Medea

Medea

1981

Medea is my first opera and was first done in collaboration with the American director/ designer/ writer Robert Wilson. Medea was the first work in which he used something other than his own writing for the text. He told me that when he had once been asked what works other than his own he would be interested in directing he had replied Medea, Parsifal and King Lear. In due course he was to do all three, and had already started work on a production of Parsifal which did not come to fruition, but Medea was the first. The project was a leap in the dark for me given that I had written virtually nothing for the human voice, nothing for orchestra, nothing for the stage, and my sole experience of opera had been to attend a performance of Gunther Schuller's The Visitation in Illinois in 1968!

He had got in touch with me in 1979 when I performed in the Festival d'Automne in Paris. In the event he was not able to come to the performance but I learned subsequently that he had asked Benedicte Pesle to let him know her view on the possibility of our working together. He eventually called me and we finally met in April 1981 when I spent a three days talking with him about his work and looking at video recordings. It was at that time that he asked me if I would be interested in writing the music for his production of Euripedes' play, which he had already adapted and for which another composer, the late Arthur Russell, had written music for a workshop in Washington. He was not happy with this music and wanted to see what I might do. He said that, for the play, he would like to have the possibility of certain passages being sung rather than spoken - some of Medea's own speeches, perhaps the chorus and so on. I recorded some draft ideas, which he liked, and then he asked me to look through the whole play and see what lines could be sung and what had to be spoken. By August of 1981 what had started out as a play with incidental music and some singing, had become an opera. However, the original planned date for the play production, for La Fenice in Venice, September 1982, still stood and so the music had to be written by June 1982....

Even before a note was written it was necessary, for reasons of budgets and planning, to decide questions of orchestration and the role of the choir. From some rapid research into what we know (or at least, knew then) about ancient Greek music I made a number of choices. In the first place I used few brass instruments (no trumpets or tenor trombones) and the references to rudimentary xylophones in the literature encouraged me to use a large body of tuned percussion (in the event 5 players, plus timpanist). Then I made the decision to have no violins and have strings only from violas downwards, a decision which has had consequences for subsequent works and for the ultimate formation of my ensemble. In addition I replaced the oboes, my least favourite instrument, with saxophones. Berlioz talks of ways of using the viola - the top string, for example, being associated with 'religious' or the 'antique'. In Act 3 scene A (in the version rewritten for Lyon, see below) the long melody on the violas is entirely on the G and D strings, following Berlioz' recommendation! Saxophones were chosen because of their division into vocal families corresponding to the ranges of the human voice and used in the first instance to support the chorus. My original idea for the chorus was to use only altos and tenors, in the registers where the voices overlap, but this proved impractical (from an administrative point of view...). The very low first aria of the Nurse for example, in the original version, draws on the hypothesis that, in the past, voices were accompanied from above rather than below.

The nature of the language used in the play affected the music of course. The greater part of the opera is in the original Greek of Euripedes. For the Nurse's first aria the rhythm of the music was derived almost entirely from that of the spoken Greek. Later (for example in Act 2 scene A) the Greek language affects rhythm but chiefly within recitative. But there are other places where a metaphorical approach to language is introduced - in Act 3 scene B for example. In Euripedes' original play at this point there is a hymn to Athens, which is in a poetic style quite different to the rest of the play. So I wrote this chorus in a quite different musical language from the rest of the opera, a language which is much more like the conventional operatic choral set-piece than the way the chorus is used elsewhere in Medea - to commentate, to interpret, to interject.

 

1982

Acts 1 and 2, plus Act 4 scene C (written in New York) and Act 5 scene C (the ending) were performed, with two piano accompaniment at the end of February 1982 following rehearsals at City College, New York with a mixture of students, semi-professional singers and singers, notably Wilhelmina Fernandez, who was originally cast as Medea. This gave us the opportunity to see how the piece worked, and to give guidelines for the opera's completion. Although I left New York prior to the public performance, but at the end of the rehearsal process, I had learned a great deal about the practicalities of writing for the human voice and about how to approach opera. I also managed to see only my second live opera - a production of La Bohème at the New York Met. I had the chance to work in detail with individual singers, like Wilhelmina and others - the virtuoso scene for the Messenger (Act 4 scene C) which uses a very wide range (two and a half octaves, including substantial falsetto) was made possible by being able to work directly with the baritone singer in New York. The other substantial bonus was the opportunity to spend a good deal of time with the conductor Richard Bernas, who was my choice for the opera, who eventually was to conduct all the performances in Paris and Lyon, and who is the work's dedicatee. His knowledge about opera is encyclopaedic and ultimately I owed learned more about opera from him than from any other single person.

Following this I returned to England and completed the writing of the opera by the end of June 1982. At the beginning of July there was a very long meeting in Venice at which we analysed precisely the state of the opera and its readiness for production. It was concluded, after a very difficult and occasionally stormy meeting that the production was not ready (we did not get round to talking about the music) and so the performances were cancelled.......

 

1984

Jean Pierre Brossman at the Opéra de Lyon committed himself to producing the opera, in partnership with the Opéra de Paris and the Festival d'Automne. In the course of rehearsing the opera, however, a number of things were changed. In the first place Act 3 scene A, where Medea has a friendly exchange with Aegeus - the only scene in the whole opera where she is relaxed, had originally been done in a semi-jazz idiom (Aegeus was to have been played by a black American baritone, to partner Wilhelmina Fernandez). In Lyon, however, Medea was played by Yvonne Kenny (white and Australian) and so the jazz idiom was slightly ridiculous. I therefore re-wrote this entire scene during the rehearsal period. Further, those parts of the opera which still used the spoken word were in English and the view was expressed that, with an opera directed by an American, composed by an Englishman, conducted by an American, with performances only in France, surely this should be put in French. I agreed, but this also meant that those lines which were sung in English had to be sung in French, and the vocal line re-written...

Shortly before the dress rehearsal it was realised that, scenes having been rehearsed individually rather than in sequence, there was both a scene change and costume change before the final scene, and so extra music had to be written an hour or so before the dress rehearsal, copied and put in the players parts before the second half started. Given the extreme length of the opera I held a meeting with the orchestra, in the first instance to apologise but also to discover who would not object to playing extra music. All four horns, the saxophones, the tuba, the bass trombone and percussionists put up their hands. This 90 second interlude remains in the final version and is a testament to their fortitude!! I spoke with the principal horn, Pascal Pongy, after writing the music at speed (all of it involving transposing instruments!) and said that I hoped the music "was playable". His words, which I treasure, were "Gavin, le moment où elle est écrite, la musique est toujours jouable".

Two scenes were cut from the opera before the first performance 3 days later, one for orchestra alone, the other for chorus, due to problems with staging. The lengthy prologue, which was essentially a series of tableaux for with Bob had said he needed little music, proved to need more material and so he collaged texts by the East German writer Heiner Müller on top of the music. This entire prologue was cut when I revised the opera in 1995 and the cut scenes reinstated.

The opera was in 5 Acts, each one with four scenes (except Act 5 which had 3) preceded by a four scene prologue. In the event Act 4 lost one scene (with chorus) and Act 5 lost one (with orchestra).

There were 11 performances - 6 in Lyon and 5 in Paris, all of which played to full houses. Working with the orchestra in Lyon, which was very highly motivated and comprised mostly young players, was an immense pleasure. By contrast the orchestra in Paris was, with a few notable exceptions, aggressively negative and it was chiefly the fact that they were baffled by the extreme (New York) sarcasm of Richard Bernas that the battles were won........

Cast

Nurse: Marie Marketou

Tutor: Frangiskos Voutsinos

Medea: Yvonne Kenny

Creon: Steven Cole

Jason: Louis Otey

Aegeus: Pierre-Yves le Maigat

Messenger: François Le Roux

Off-stage soprano: Liliane Mazeron

 

Conductor: Richard Bernas

Note : Medea: Structure of Original version

Medea: Structure of Original version

Prologue

Scene A (full cast) tableau of daily life in Colchis -mid morning, olive grove

Scene B (full cast, off stage chorus) tableau of travel through the Anatolian mountains - midnight, rocks

Scene C (full cast) tableau of death, Medea stabbing her brother - midday, dais

Scene D (Medea, Nurse, children, men) tableau of departure, Medea throws overboard pieces of the body to delay pursuit - - dawn, ship

 

Act 1

Scene A (Nurse) aria in which she tells of the deplorable things that have taken place, and expresses her anxiety about what will happen now that Medea has been deceived and abandoned by Jason.

Scene B (Nurse, Tutor, children) The Tutor joins in and tells further the news that Creon has banished Medea.

Scene C (Nurse, Tutor, children, Medea off stage) Medea is heard

Scene D (Nurse, Medea off stage, Off-stage soprano) Medea sings of her suffering and of being torn between her love for her children and her anger against Jason

 

Act 2

Scene A (Chorus, Nurse, Medea off stage) The chorus offer their support to the Nurse and to Medea

Scene B (Medea, chorus) Medea describes to the chorus the condition of women in marriage and demands that they be silent.

Scene C (Creon, Medea, Chorus) Creon orders Medea to leave Corinth. Medea persuades him to allow her a delay before leaving. To the chorus she speaks of her initial plans for vengeance.

Scene D (Medea, Jason, Chorus) Medea reminds Jason of what she has done for him, he defends his actions, offers material support, justifies his new liaison with Creon's daughter. The chorus judge him to be wrong.

 

- interval -

 

Act 3

Scene A (Aegeus, Medea, Chorus) Aegeus is unable to produce children and has consulted the oracle. Medea tells him of Jason's treachery, her banishment and promises to cure him of his sterility if he gives her a safe haven in Athens. He agrees.

Scene B (Medea, chorus) Now assured of a safe refuge Medea sets out her plans for vengeance, not on Jason but on his new wife and her children. The chorus sing a hymn to Athens, implying their disapproval.

Scene C (Medea, Jason) Medea feigns submission and asks that her children might remain in Corinth rather than share her banishment. She gives a present for his bride.

Scene D (Jason, children - instrumental only) The children bear the gifts - the chorus know that they will lead to death.

 

Act 4 

Scene A (Chorus) The chorus sing of the impending disaster

Scene B (Tutor, Medea) The Tutor says that the gift has been accepted. Medea receives the news sadly. Knowing of the imminent death of her children she is torn between love and pride.

Scene C (Messenger, Medea, Chorus) The Messenger is shocked by Medea's joy when he tells of the agony of the princess's death, the veil which sticks to her skin and burns her, of Creon's death when he tries to help his daughter.

Scene D (full cast) Scene of the children's murder. Break in the action, seated at a long table the cast speak directly to the audience.

 

Act 5 

Scene A (Orchestra, Off-stage soprano) The death of Creon's daughter, depicted by a puppet

Scene B (Jason, Medea, Chorus) Jason, seeking his children, learns of their death. Medea refuses even to let him bury them. She escapes in a chariot bearing them to the sanctuary of Hera.

Scene C (Jason, Chorus) Jason appeals to the gods. Corinth is in flames.

 

Note

Act 4 Scene A and Act 5 Scene A were not in the 1984 performance, though included in the final dress rehearsal

The Prologue and Act 4 Scene D were omitted from the revised version in 1995, Act 4 Scene A and Act 5 Scene A were reinstated, and Act 1 Scene A was re-written.

 



Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration: c. 3'
Male Choir
First performance Estonia Symphony Hall, Tallinn January 30 2008
Estonian National Male Choir, conductor Kaspars Putnins

Note : Text of Memento

Text of Memento

over the cliff-top and into the mist

across the heather and down to the peat

here with the sheep and where with the peeweet

through the stubble and by the pheasant's tryst

above the pines and past the northern lights

along the voe and out to meet he ice

among the stacks and round their kreidekreis

in summer lightning and beneath white nights

behind the haar and in front of the tower

beyond the moor and against writ and ring

below the mort-gate and outwith all kind

under the hill and at the boskless bower

over the hills and far away to bring

over the hills and far away to mind

 

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)



Instrumentation: Any number of keyboards, including one prepared piano.
Duration: indeterminate
Published in EMC Keyboard Anthology.
First performance: Kingston College of Art, 13 December 1968.

Note : Mr. Sunshine (1968)

Mr. Sunshine (1968)

Mr. Sunshine is one of three pieces written in 1968 for the pianist John Tilbury following my return from America. It consists of one large page of notation incorporating certain elements of indeterminacy. There are "looped" areas where short phrases are played over and over, and some of these are connected by lines to other parts of the page, giving the possibility of moving through the music in a series of leaps. Although written for a solo pianist, it is strictly for any number of pianos, of which one should be "prepared". This prepared piano may be used to maintain a pulse, to colour other material or to give a continuum to the freer, non prepared part.

It is, in fact, the earliest piece that I still acknowledge, all others having been destroyed.



Duration: 15’
Instrumentation (i): 2 pianos.
First performance: The Kitchen, New York, 10 November 1978.
Instrumentation (ii): 2 pianos, 1 or 2 vibes, bass and/or tuba and/or bass clarinet.
First performance: Chapelle de la Sorbonne, Paris (Festival d'Automne), 16 November 1979.
Instrumentation (“tour” version): 2 saxophones, 2 vibes, piano, tuba, double bass, percussion.  *
First performance: Midland Institute, Birmingham, 5 November 1981.

Note : My First Homage (1978)

My First Homage (1978)

for 2 pianos

My First Homage was written for a concert of music for two pianos that Dave Smith and I gave in New York in November 1978 and is a homage to the music of the great jazz pianist Bill Evans and more particularly to the trio that he led from 1959-1961 which had affected me deeply when I first began playing jazz seriously. In 1966, however, I gave up playing jazz after a long period during which improvised music had been my principal professional musical activity. Not only did I give up playing jazz but I developed, too, an almost pathological aversion to jazz and to other forms of improvised music. Writing this piece represented not only a homage to music which had once been very important to me, but also served in part to exorcise my repudiation of jazz. The title uses the same initials as those of a piece from the trio's last performance, recorded immediately before bassist Scott LaFaro's tragic death, called "My Foolish Heart", and quotes from it. I relished the harmonic approach of the Evans trio in every piece that they played, and also the rhythmic flexibility, both in Evans' own playing as well as that of Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, even at slow tempi. In addition I always found it touching that in the very last piece from this session, LaFaro's Jade Visions, the greatest bassist in the history of jazz dropped a beat in his own piece...



Ballet with choreography by Edouard Lock. Music, after Purcell and Gluck, for four players:saxophone (soprano, alto, tenor or baritone), viola, cello, piano

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Note : Gavin's notes

Gavin's notes

This new work (as yet untitled) with Edouard Lock involves a reworking of music from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, just as our previous collaboration, Amjad, took the Romantic ballet - Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty as its source.  As with Amjad, Edouard selected many extracts from the two operas for me to recompose. Many of these were very short - sometimes only forty seconds or so - and had to be extended into longer compositions, unlike with Amjad where most pieces were about the same length as music in the original Tchaikovsky ballets. In addition, unlike with Tchaikovsky, a great deal of this music would be unfamiliar to the majority of ballet audiences and so I tended to stay closer to the originals. I wrote over 30 pieces and almost all of them appear in the ballet. The process of writing this music was immensely pleasurable since, as with Tchaikovsky, I learned a great deal more about the source music and its compositional ethos and craft. Some may be surprised at how much of the music for the ballet is actually very fast!!

 



Concerto for tuned percussion quintet and chamber orchestra
Duration c. 25’
First performance: Les Percussions Claviers de Lyon and L’Ensemble (Orchestre de Basse-Normandie) conductor Dominique Debart
Theatre Hérouv ille Saint-Clair, May 28th 2004



nos. 1, 8 and 9 first perf. Anna Maria Friman, John Potter, GB Ensemble
Great Hall Dartington, Devon April 26
Complete performance Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Toronto
Duration 30’
March 6th 2007

Note : Nine Irish Madrigals (Adapted from 3rd book of Madrigals)

Nine Irish Madrigals (Adapted from 3rd book of Madrigals)

(for soprano, tenor, viola, bass clarinet and double  bass)

Hire Only

1. Laura being dead, Petrarch finds trouble in all the things of the earth

2. Laura is ever present to him

3. He recalls his visions of her

4. He ceases to speak of her graces and her virtues which are no more

5. He considers the reasons for his verses

6. The fine time of the year increases Petrarch's sorrow

7. The sight of Laura's house reminds him of the great happiness he has lost.

8. He sends his rhymes to the tomb of Laura to pray her to call him to her (tenor solo)

9. Only he who mourns her and Heaven that possesses her knew her while she lived (tenor solo)

Note : Text of Nine Irish Madrigals

Text of Nine Irish Madrigals

1. Laura being dead, Petrarch finds trouble in all the things of the earth

2. Laura is ever present to him 

3. He recalls his visions of her

4. He ceases to speak of her graces and her virtues which are no more

5. He considers the reasons for his verses

6. The fine time of the year increases Petrarch's sorrow

7. The sight of Laura's house reminds him of the great happiness he has lost

8. He sends his rhymes to the tomb of Laura to pray her to call him to her

9. Only he who mourns her and heaven that possesses her knew her while she lived

 

Like the Eight Irish Madrigals these Nine Irish Madrigals, also for soprano and tenor, but with a different accompaniment, come from my Third Book of Madrigals - which is for three voices and lute.

These all set sonnets by Petrarch in the remarkable Irish prose translations by John Millington Synge. I came across Synge's Petrarch poems in the University of Victoria library, part of a remarkable Synge collection. They were edited by one of Canada's greatest poets Robin Skelton, who died in 1997 and to whose memory these madrigals are dedicated.

Although Synge first became interested in Petrarch when he visited Italy in 1896 it was not until early 1907, after he had met the American poetess Agnes Tobin and read her translations, that he began to work on his own versions. Part of his intention was to translate love poetry into English but they also served as an exercise in writing prose poetry of the kind he could use in his last play Deirdre of the Sorrows, which he wrote in parallel with the Petrarch translations. Both the play and the translations were incomplete at the time of his death in March 1909.

Petrarch's sonnets are traditionally divided into two collections: in vita di Madonna Laura and in morte di Madonna Laura, and Synge's settings are from the second group. During the time that he was writing them he became aware that he did not have long to live and the opening lines of the first poem show this: "Life is flying from me, not stopping an hour".

Only eight translations from Petrarch appeared in the edition of Synge's Poems and Translations published two weeks after his death and each was given a title in imitation of Petrarch. When four more were added in the Collected Works in 1910 more were included and four of these had titles in a different hand than Synge's. Robin Skelton added titles to five more in his 1961 edition of Synge's translations.

I am grateful to Robin Skelton's family for allowing me to include these titles.

(Gavin Bryars)

 

1. Laura being dead, Petrarch finds trouble in all the things of the earth

Life is flying from me, not stopping an hour, and Death is making great strides following my track.  The days about me and the days passed over me, are bringing me desolation, and the days to come will be the same surely.

All things that I am bearing in mind, and all things I am dread of, are keeping me in troubles, in this way one time, in that way another time, so that if I wasn't taking pity on my own self it's long ago I'd have given up my life.

If my dark heart has any sweet thing it is turned away from me, and then farther off I see the great winds where I must be sailing.  I see my good luck far away in the harbour, but my steersman is tired out, and the masts and the ropes on them are broken, and the beautiful lights where I would be always looking are quenched.

 

2. Laura is ever present to him

If the birds are making lamentation, or the green banks are moved by a little wind of summer, or you can hear the waters making a stir by the shores that are green and flowery.

That's where I do be stretched out thinking of love, writing my songs, and herself that Heaven shows me though hidden in the earth I set my eyes on, and hear the way that she feels my sighs and makes an answer to me.

'Alas,' I hear her say, 'why are you using yourself up before the time is come, and pouring out a stream of tears so sad and doleful?

'You'd do right to be glad rather, for in dying I won days that have no ending, and when you saw me shutting up my eyes I was opening them on the light that is eternal.'

  

3. He recalls his visions of her

How many times, running away from all people and from myself if I was able, I go out to my little nook, with my two eyes crying tears on my breast and on the grass under me, and breaking the air with the great sighs I do be giving.

How many times, and I heavy with sorrow, I have stretched out in shady places and woods, seeking always in my thoughts for herself that death has taken from me, and calling out to her one time and again that she might come.  Then in some form of a high goddess I see her rising up out of the clearest pool of the Sorga, my sweet river, and putting herself to sit upon the bank.

Or other days I have seen her on the fresh grass and she picking flowers like a living lady, yet showing me in her look she has a pity for myself.

 

4. He ceases to speak of her graces and her virtues which are no more

The eyes that I would be talking of so warmly, and the arms, and the hands, and the feet, and the face, that are after calling me away from myself and making me a lonesome man among all people.

The hair that was of shining gold, and brightness of the smile that was the like of an angel's surely, and was making a paradise of the earth, are turned to a little dust that knows nothing at all.

And yet I myself am living; it is for this I am making a complaint, to be left without the light I had such a great love for, in good fortune and bad, and this will be the end of my songs of love, for the vein where I had cleverness is dried up, and everything I have is turned to complaint only.

 

5. He considers the reasons for his verses

If I had thought that the voice of my grief would have a value I would have made a greater number surely of my first sorrow and in a finer manner: but she who made me speak them out and who stood in the summit of my thoughts is dead at this time, and I am not able to make these rough verses sweet or clear.

And in surety those times all I was wishing was to ease my sad heart in any way I was able and not to gain an honour for myself, and it was weep I was seeking and not the honour men might win of it, and now it is the one pleasure I am seeking that she would call to me and I silent and tired out.

 

6. The fine time of the year increases Petrarch's sorrow

The south wind is coming back, bringing the fine season, and the flowers, and the grass, her sweet family, along with her. The swallow and the nightingale are making a stir, and the spring is turning white and red in every place.

            There is a cheerful look on the meadows, and peace in the sky, and the sun is well pleased, I'm thinking, looking downward, and the air and the waters and the earth herself are full of love, and every beast is turning back looking for its mate.

            And what a coming to me is great sighing and trouble, which herself is drawing out of my deep heart, herself that has taken the key of it up to Heaven.

            And it is this way I am, that the singing birds, and the flowers of the earth, and the sweet ladies, with the grace and comeliness, are the like of a desert to me, and wild beasts astray in it.

 

7. The sight of Laura's house reminds him of the great happiness he has lost

Os this nest in which my Phoenix put on her feathers of gold and purple, my Phoenix that did hold me under her wing and she drawing out sweet words and sighs from me? Oh, root of my sweet misery, where is that beautiful face, where light would be shining out, the face that did keep my heart like a flame burning? She was without a match upon the earth, I hear them say, and now she is happy in the Heavens.

            And she has left me after her dejected and lonesome, turning back all times to the place I do be making much of for her sake only, and I seeing the night on the little hills where she took her last flight up into the Heavens, and where one time her eyes would make sunshine and it night itself.

 

8. He sends his rhymes to the tomb of Laura to pray her to call him to her

Let you go down, sorrowful rhymes, to the hard rock is covering my dear treasure, and then let you call out till herself that is in the heavens will make answer, though her dead body is lying in a shady place.

            Let you say to her that it is tired out I am with being alive, with steering in bad seas, but I am going after her step by step, gathering up what she let fall behind her.

            It is of her only I do be thinking, and she living and dead, and now I have made her with my songs so that the whole world may know her, and give her the love that is her due.

            May it please her to be ready for my own passage that is getting near: may she be there to meet me, herself in the Heavens, that she may call me, and draw me after her.

 

9. Only he who mourns her and Heaven that possesses her knew her while she lived

Ah, Death, it is you that have left the world cold and shady, with no sun over it. It's you have left Love without eyes or arms to him, you've left liveliness stripped, and beauty without a shape to her, and all courtesy in chains, and honesty thrown down into a hole. I am making lamentation alone, though it isn't myself only has a cause to be crying out; since you, Death, have crushed the first seed of goodness in the whole world, and with it gone what place will we find a second?

            The air and the earth and the seas would have a good right to be crying out - and they pitying the race of men that is left without herself, like a meadow without flowers, or a ring robbed of jewellery.

            The world didn't know her the time she was in it, but I myself knew her - and I left now to be weeping in this place; and the Heavens knew her, the Heavens that are giving an ear this day to my crying out.



First performance Sentieri Selvaggi, Milan June 2006
Duration c. 15'
flute, clarinet, vibraphone, piano, violin, cello



(8 Shakespeare sonnets)
soprano, tenor, speaking voice, bass clarinet/ clarinet; electric/ acoustic guitar; percussion (vibes, cimbalom, untuned percussion), piano, 2 violas, cello, double bass
Duration 61’
First performance The Courtyard Theatre Stratford on Avon, February 24
Anna Maria Friman, John Potter, Gavin Friday
Opera North Ensemble, dir. James Holmes

Note : Structure of Nothing like the Sun

Structure of Nothing like the Sun

I A Sonnet 60 (spoken)

I B Sonnet 60 (soprano and tenor)

II A Sonnet 123 (spoken)

II B Sonnet 123 (tenor solo)

III A Sonnet 128 (spoken)

III B Sonnet 128 (soprano solo) followed by postlude

IV A Sonnet 94 (spoken)

IV B Sonnet 94 (soprano and tenor)

V A Sonnet 102 (spoken)

V B Sonnet 102 (soprano solo)

VI A Sonnet 146 (spoken)

VI B Sonnet 146 (soprano and tenor) followed by postlude

VII A Sonnet 55 (spoken)

VII B Sonnet 55 (tenor solo)

VIII A Sonnet 64 (spoken)

VIII B Sonnet 64 (soprano and tenor) followed by epilogue

Note : Text of Nothing like the Sun

Text of Nothing like the Sun

Sonnet 60

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end;

Each changing place with that which goes before,

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Nativity, once in the main of light,

Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,

Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,

And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.

Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth

And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,

Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,

And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:

And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand

Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand. 

 

Sonnet 123

No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change

Thy pyramids built up with newer might

To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;

They are but dressings of a former sight.

Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire

What thou dost foist upon us that is old,

And rather make them born to our desire

Than think that we before have heard them told.

Thy registers and thee I both defy,

Not wond'ring at the present or the past;

For thy records and thee and what we see doth lie,

Made more or less by thy continual haste.

This I do vow and this shall ever be:

I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee.

 

Sonnet 128

 

How oft when thou, my music, music play'st,

Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds

With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway'st

The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,

Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap,

To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,

Whilst my poor lips which should that harvest reap,

At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand!

To be so tickled, they would change their state

And situation with those dancing chips,

O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,

Making dead wood more bless'd than living lips.

Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,

Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

 

Sonnet 94

They that have pow'r to hurt, and will do none,

That do not do the thing they most do show,

Who moving others are themselves as stone,

Unmoved, cold, and to temptations slow,

They rightly do inherit heaven's graces

And husband nature's riches from expense.

They are the lords and owners of their faces;

Others but stewards of their excellence.

The summer flow'r is to the summer sweet,

Though to itself it only live and die.

But if that flow'r with base infection meet,

The basest weed outbraves his dignity.

For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

 

Sonnet 102

My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming;

I love not less, though less the show appear.

That love is merchandised whose rich esteeming

The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere.

Our love was new, and then but in the spring,

When I was wont to greet it with my lays,

As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,

And stops his pipe in growth of riper days.

Not that the summer is less pleasant now

Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,

But that wild music burthens every bough,

And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.

Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,

Because I would not dull you with my song.

 

Sonnet 146

Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,

These rebel powers that thee array,

Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,

Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?

Why so large cost, having so short a lease,

Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?

Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,

Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body's end?

Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,

And let that pine to aggravate thy store;

Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;

Within be fed, without be rich no more:

So shall thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,

And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.


Sonnet 55

Not marble nor the gilded monuments

Of princes shall outlive this pow'rful rhyme,

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall statues overturn,

And broils root out the work of masonry,

Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire, shall burn

The living record of your memory.

'Gainst death and all oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room

Even in the eyes of all posterrity

That wear this world out to the ending doom.

So till the judgment that yourself arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

 

Sonnet 64

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defac'd

The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;

When sometime lofty towers I see down-raz'd,

And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;

When I have seen the hungry ocean gain

Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,

And the firm soil win of the watery main,

Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;

When I have seen such interchange of state,

Or state itself confounded to decay;

Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate

That Time will come and take my love away.

This thought is as a death which cannot choose

But weep to have that which it fears to lose.



for soprano and tenor
Duration 6’
Dedication: John Potter and Anna Maria Friman
First performance: CBC Broadcast Sept 11th 2002

Note : Text of Lauda 4 "Oi me lasso"

Text of Lauda 4 "Oi me lasso"

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,              Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                  for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                         enough to die?

 

Morire dovaresti, falso sconoscente,           You should have died, false and thankless heart,

villano, cieco, pigro e negligente,               villainous, blind, lazy and negligent,

ké per amor non vivi fervente                    since you do not live so fervent with love

sì ke languise.                                          that you languish.

 

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,              Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                  for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                         enough to die?

 

Perire potaresti si non se' defeso               You should have died, if you were not protected

dal grande amor Iesù da cui se' ateso:       by the great love of Jesus, to which you have turned:

vôlte abracciare e sta en croce desteso,     he longs to embrace you, and hangs stretched upon

s'a lui venisse.                                         the cross, that you may come to him.

 

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,             Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                 for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                        enough to die?

 

Transmortisci, cuore, e và gridando;         You faint, my heart, and go out shouting,

e pure amore amore amore amando,        and loving Love-Love-Love;

ke no l'ai puramente amato và dolorando, since you have not loved purely, go forth sorrowing,

e parturisce!                                           and be born again!

 

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,             Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                 for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                        enough to die?



Text: George Bruce
Duration c. 3'
Solo tenor and harp