Dal Diario di Virginia Woolf

Dominick Argento (1927 - 20 febbraio 2019): From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, ciclo di composizioni per canto e pianoforte (1974). Janet Baker, mezzosoprano, e Martin Isepp, pianoforte (primi interpreti).
I testi sono tratti da A Writer’s Diary: Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf, pubblicato nel 1954; il ciclo valse a Dominick Argento il Premio Pulitzer per la musica nel 1975. In merito a questo lavoro del compositore statunitense sono disponibili in rete un’accurata analisi di Noelle Woods e una guida all’interpretazione curata da Jacquelyn Matava.

I. The Diary (April, 1919)

What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something… so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk… in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life…

II. Anxiety (October, 1920) [3:56]

Why is life so tragic; so like a little strip of pavement over an abyss. I look down; I feel giddy; I wonder how I am ever to walk to the end. But why do I feel this: Now that I say it I don’t feel it. The fire burns; we are going to hear the Beggar’s Opera. Only it lies all about me; I can’t keep my eyes shut… And with it all how happy I am—if it weren’t for my feeling that it’s a strip of pavement over an abyss.

III. Fancy (February, 1927) [5:53]

Why not invent a new kind of play; as for instance:
Woman thinks…
He does.
Organ plays.
She writes.
They say:
She sings.
Night speaks
They miss

IV. Hardy’s Funeral (January, 1928) [8:34]

Yesterday we went to Hardy’s funeral. What did I think of? Of Max Beerbohm’s letter… or a lecture… about women’s writing. At intervals some emotion broke in. But I doubt the capacity of the human animal for being dignified in ceremony. One catches a bishop’s frown and twitch; sees his polished shiny nose; suspects the rapt spectacled young priest, gazing at the cross he carries, of being a humbug; …next here is the coffin, an overgrown one; like a stage coffin, covered with a white satin cloth; bearers elderly gentlemen rather red and stiff, holding to the corners; pigeons flying outside, …procession to poets corner; dramatic “In sure and certain hope of immortality” perhaps melodramatic… Over all this broods for me some uneasy sense of change and mortality and how partings are deaths; and then a sense of my own fame… and a sense of the futility of it all.

V. Rome (May, 1935) [15:03]

Rome: tea. Tea in café. Ladies in bright coats and white hats. Music. Look out and see people like movies… Ices. Old man who haunts the Greco… Fierce large jowled old ladies…talking about Monaco (; about) Talleyrand. Some very poor black wispy women. The effect of dowdiness produced by wispy hair. (Rome. Sunday café… Very cold…) The Prime Minister’s letter offering to recommend me for the Companion of Honour. No.

VI. War (June, 1940) [18:19]

This, I thought yesterday, may be my last walk… the war — our waiting while the knives sharpen for the operation — has taken away the outer wall of security. No echo comes back. I have no surroundings… Those familiar circumvolutions — those standards — which have for so many years given back an echo and so thickened my identity are all wide and wild as the desert now. I mean, there is no “autumn”, no winter. We pour to the edge of a precipice… and then? I can’t conceive that there will be a 27th June 1941.

VII. Parents (December, 1940) [24:13]

How beautiful they were, those old people — I mean father and mother — how simple, how clear, how untroubled. I have been dipping into old letters and father’s memoirs. He loved her: oh and was so candid and reasonable and transparent… How serene and gay even, their life reads to me: no mud; no whirlpools. And so human — with the children and the little hum and song of the nursery. But if I read as a contemporary I shall lose my child’s vision and so must stop. Nothing turbulent; nothing involved; no introspection.

VIII. Last Entry (March, 1941) [28:57]

No: I intend no introspection. I mark Henry James’ sentence: observe perpetually. Observe the oncome of age. Observe greed. Observe my own despondency. By that means it becomes serviceable. Or so I hope. I insist on spending this time to the best advantage. I will go down with my colours flying… Occupation is essential. And now with some pleasure I find that it’s seven; and must cook dinner. Haddock and sausage meat. I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down.
[…to come back after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould transparent enough to reflect the light of our life.]


Swanee x 3

Dedicato a Gianmarco Groppelli 🙂

George Gershwin (1898 - 1937): Swanee (1919) eseguito al pianoforte dall’autore (incisione su rullo per pianoforte automatico). Il brano fu concepito, almeno in parte, come parodia di Old Folks At Home ovvero Swanee River (1851), famosissimo minstrel song di Stephen Foster.

Lo stesso brano cantato da Al Jolson, sul testo originale di Irving Caesar, nel film Rapsodia in blu (Rhapsody in Blue), biografia cinematografica di Gershwin diretta nel 1945 da Irving Rapper.

I’ve been away from you a long time.
I never thought I’d missed you so.
Somehow I feel
You love is real,
Near you I long to wanna be.
The birds are singin’, it is song time,
The banjos strummin’ soft and low.
I know that you
Yearn for me too.
Swanee! You’re calling me!

How I love you, how I love you!
My dear ol’ Swanee,
I’d give the world to be
Among the folks in
D-I-X-I-E-ven now My mammy’s
Waiting for me,
Praying for me,
Down by the Swanee.
The folks up north will see me no more
When I go to the Swanee Shore!

Swanee, Swanee, I am coming back to Swanee!
Mammy, Mammy, I love the old folks at home!

Swanee eseguito dal Banjo-Orchestra, uno strumento meccanico recentemente prodotto dalla D. C. Ramey Piano Company di Marysville, Ohio, sulla base del pressoché omonimo Banjorchestra, realizzato nel 1914 dalla Connorized Music Company, che aveva sedi a New York, a Chicago e a Saint Louis.

Musick for a while – III: a 6 voci

Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695): Musick for a while (Z 583), adattamento di Susanne Blache per 6 voci femminili. Sjaella.

Musick for a while
Shall all your cares beguile.
Wond’ring how your pains were eas’d
And disdaining to be pleas’d
Till Alecto free the dead
From their eternal bands,
Till the snakes drop from her head,
And the whip from out her hands.

Se volete avere qualche informazione in più su questa meravigliosa composizione e ascoltarne un’altra intensa interpretazione, cliccate qui.
L’ensemble vocale Sjaella prende nome da un termine scandinavo che significa «anima»; ha sede a Lipsia e una bella pagina web.

Purcell, Musick for a while

My heart of gold

Ogni tanto mi piace ricordare agli amici qual è la mia canzone preferita. Nella mia antologia personale non poteva mancare l’interpretazione di Donna Stewart e Ron Andrico, ossia il duo Mignarda, più volte gradito ospite di questo blog. Buone emozioni a tutti 🙂

Alas, my love, you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously,
And I have loved you so long,
Delighting in your company.

  Greensleeves was all my joy,
  Greensleeves was my delight,
  Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
  And who but my lady Greensleeves.

I have been ready at your hand,
To grant whatever you would crave;
I have both waged life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.

I bought thee petticoats of the best,
The cloth so fine as fine might be:
I gave thee jewels for thy chest;
And all this cost I spent on thee.

Thy crimson stockings all of silk,
With gold all wrought above the knee,
Thy pumps as white as was the milk,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.

Well! I will pray to God on high,
That thou my constancy mayst see,
And that, yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me!

Moon of Alabama

Kurt Weill (1900 - 1950): Alabama Song su testo di Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956), da Mahagonny (1927). Robyn Archer, voce solista; London Sinfonietta, dir. Dominic Muldowney.
Il testo originale, in tedesco, fu pubblicato nella raccolta di poesie Hauspostille (1927); non è chiaro se la traduzione inglese sia opera dello stesso Brecht oppure di Elisabeth Hauptmann (1897 - 1973), allora collaboratrice del drammaturgo tedesco.
La musica fu composta dallo stesso Brecht insieme con Franz Servatius Bruinier (1905 - 1928); venne poi modificata da Kurt Weill per essere inserita in due lavori nati dalla collaborazione con Brecht: il «Songspiel» Mahagonny (1927) e l’opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1930).

Show me the way to the next whisky bar,
Oh, don’t ask why,
For if we don’t find the next whisky bar
I tell you we must die.

Oh, Moon of Alabama,
We now must say good-bye.
We’ve lost our good old mama
And must have whisky,
Oh, you know why.

Show me the way to the next pretty girl,
Oh, don’t ask why,
For if we don’t find the next pretty girl
I tell you we must die.

Oh, Moon of Alabama,
We now must say good-bye.
We’ve lost our good old mama
And must have a girl,
Oh, you know why.

Show me the way to the next little dollar,
Oh, don’t ask why,
For if we don’t find the next little dollar
I tell you we must die.

Oh, Moon of Alabama,
We now must say good-bye.
We’ve lost our good old mama
And must have dollars,
Oh, you know why.


Kurt Weill

Harvest Moon

Shine on, shine on, Harvest Moon
Up in the sky;
I ain’t had no lovin’
Since January, April, June or July.
Snow time, ain’t no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon;
Shine on, shine on, Harvest Moon,
For me and my gal.

(Song attribuito a Nora Bayes e Jack Norworth, autori dell’epoca d’oro di Tin Pan Alley; la composizione risale ai primi anni del 1900.)

Laurel & Hardy

Folksongs: Bushes and Briars

Per Paola (buon compleanno!) e Carole.

Anonimo: Bushes and Briars, canto tradizionale inglese. Alfred Deller, controtenore; Desmond Dupré, liuto.
La «scoperta» di questo brano si deve a Ralph Vaughan Williams, che l’udì cantare da un pastore nell’Essex e ne pubblicò un arrangiamento per coro maschile a 4 voci a cappella nel 1908.

Through bushes and through briars,
I lately took my way;
All for to hear the small birds sing,
And the lambs to skip and play.

I overheard my own true love,
Her voice it was so clear;
Long time I have been waiting
For the coming of my dear.

Sometimes I am uneasy
And troubled in my mind;
Sometimes I think I’ll go to my love
And tell to him my mind.

And if I should go to my love,
My love he will say «Nay»;
If I show to him my boldness,
He’ll ne’er love me again.

L’arrangiamento di Vaughan Williams eseguito da The Gentlemen of St. John’s.

RVW, Bushes and briars