In Recital 2
NOTES ON THE SONGS EiIGHT ITALIAN SONGS What student of classical vocal technique hasn't studied several of the Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias of the Seventeenth and eighteenth Centuries from the G. Schirmer edition. I've heard my wife Christina tell her students how she took these gems for granted when she learned them in her teens and how they grew on her over decades of singing them in concert and coaching them with her own students. Since six different composers are represented here some brief biographical notes will be included along with notes on the compositions. We recorded these in 1988 after about five years of living with them as performers. In 1991 a new edition came out published by Alfred Music and edited by John Glenn Paton. It's subtitled "an authoritative edition based on authentic sources." I'll say a few words about each song primarily referring to Paton's wonderful notes that accompany each of these songs in his edition. Caro mio ben (Ah, dearest love) is by Tommaso Giordani (1730-1806) and not by Giuseppe Giordani. The accompaniment is a reduction of the original scoring for strings. Già il sole dal Gange (Sunrise) by Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) is an aria from the opera Honesty in Love Affairs, the composer's second opera written at the age of nineteen. He was at that time music director to Queen Christna of Sweden who lived in Rome. Here too we love the Schirmer edition setting with it's lively introductory measures that set the spirited pace. Paton points out that Dal Gange is a figure of speech meaning the east. Sento nel core (I feel in my heart) by Alessandro Scarlatti is the only song that was not included among the 24 Italian Songs and Arias at the time of this recording. It can now be found in a subsequent Schirmer edition which comprises 28 Italian songs. Lasciatemi morire! (Let me die!) by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) is an aria from the opera Arianna. This lament became famous whereas the rest of the opera was lost. We still prefer this recorded version over the newer setting in the Paton edition. Vergin tutto amor (Virgin, all love) by Francesco Durante (1694-1755) was originally composed as a song without words known in it's day a solfeggio. A hundred years later words were added to make it a prayer to the Virgin Mary. Nel cor più non mi sento (My heart no longer feels) by Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816) is an aria from the opera L'amor contrastato (the Hard Won Love). Paisiello was the most popular comic composer of his time. He had great success with his version of the Barber of Seville prior to Rossini's version which replaced it. Sebben Crudele (Even though, cruel one) by Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) is an aria from the opera La costanza in amor vince l'inganno. Comparing the two editions Christina still prefers the Schirmer setting with it's classical sense of pianistic motion. Se Florindo è fedele (Should Florindo be faithful) by Alessandro Scarlatti goes under the title Se Florinda e fedele in the Paton edition. He notes that if a woman sings the aria then the name Florindo should be used. The setting is the same in both editions. PROSES LYRIQUES by Claude Debussy Proses Lyriques (1892-93) was composed in the latter part of Debussy's early period. The text to these four songs were written by the composer. Beginning in the 1890s, Debussy developed his own musical language largely independent of Wagner's style. In his work he utilized the Phrygian mode as well as less standard scales, such as the whole-tone, which creates a sense of floating, ethereal harmony. Debussy was beginning to employ a single, continuous theme and break away from the traditional A-B-A form, with it's restatements and amplifications, which had been a mainstay of classical music since Haydn. FIVE JEWISH ART SONGS by Lazar Weiner Lazar Weiner was born in the Ukraine in 1897. Musically gifted he became a member of the synagogue choir at the age of seven and he joined the children's choir of the Kiev opera. He was admitted to the Kiev Conservatory at the age of thirteen where he studied piano, musical theory and composition until the Weiner family emigrated in 1914 to the United States. In the 1920's he began to conduct Jewish choirs, collecting and arranging existing Yiddish folk music. By 1926 when he became a U.S. citizen he became music director of the Central Synagogue in New York. At that time he also conducted the Workman's Circle Chorus and was music director of the weekly radio program The Message of Israel. He was regarded as the greatest composer of Yiddish songs in his time. (From notes by Manja Ressler) TO RUN AWAY by Howard Rovics To Run Away is a setting of the poem by the same name from Rivka Kashtan's book Wild Variations on a Theme of the Garden of Eden & Other Poems from Those Troubled Times. It was written for Christina Rovics who premiered it on October 24, 1991 with the composer at the piano on an art-song recital which they gave at The Great Hall, C.W.Post Campus of Long Island University. TRANSLATIONS ITALIAN SONGS CARO MIO BEN Beloved, my heart languishes without you. Your faithful one always sighs: cruel one, cease so much punishment. GIA IL SOLE DAL GANGE Already the sun sparkles more brightly in the east and dries every drop of the weeping dawn. With gilded ray it adorn every blade of grass with dew and paints the stars of the sky in the field. SENTO NEL CORE In my heart I feel a certain pain which disturbs my peace. A torch shines which kindles my soul. If it is not love, it will become love. LASCIATEME MORIRE Let me die! And what consolation is there for me,enduring such a cruel fate? VERGIN TUTTO AMOR Virgin, full of love, mother of mercy, holy mother, sweet Mary, hear the voice of the sinner. Let a sinner's weeping move you. Let a sinner's sorrow be heard by your merciful heart. NEL COR PIU NON MI SENTO No longer do I feel youth sparkle in my heart. The cause of my torment? Love, you are the guilty one. You excite me, bite me, prick me, pinch me. What is this, alas? Have mercy! Love is a certain something that drives me crazy! SEBBEN CRUDELE Cruel one, although you make me languish, I want to love you faithfully always. With the persistence of my servitude, I will know how to wear down your pride. SE FLORINDO E FEDELE If Florindo is faithful, I shall fall in love with him. Cupid can draw his bow, but I know how to defend myself from a flattering glance. Pleas, tears, and laments I will not listen to; but if he will be faithful, I shall fall in love. DEBUSSY: PROSES LYRIQUES DE REVE (A Dream) The night has the tenderness of a woman, and the old trees under the golden moon are dreaming of her who has just passed by, her head wreathed in pearls. Now forever brokenhearted, they could not beckon to her. They are gone, all of them, the frail, the frenzied, sowing their shrill laughter on the lawn, the enchanting caress of their fragrant hips on the light breezes. Alas! Of all this, nothing is left but a pale tremor. The old trees under the golden moon are shedding like tears their lovely leaves of gold. No one will dedicate to them again the glory of those golden helmets, now forever tarnished. The knights have died on the road to the Grail. The night has the tenderness of a woman, hand seeming to lightly touch our souls; hands so frenzied, so frail, for whom swords sang in olden times. Strange sighs arise from under the trees. My soul is an ancient dream which embraces you. DE GREVE (The Shore) Over the ocean falls the twilight, White unravelled silk. The waves, like small wild creatures, chatter, like little girls coming from school, in the rustling of their dresses, green iridescent silk. The clouds, ponderous travelers, gather for the coming storm, a background really far too dark for this English watercolor. The waves, little waves, know no more where to go; for here comes now the wretched downpour, the rustling of billowing skirts, bewitched green silk. But the moon, compassionate to all, comes to quiet this grey conflict, and slowly caresses her little friends, who offer themselves, like loving lips, to this warm and white kiss. Then, nothing more. Nothing but the tardy bells of the floating churches, Angelus of the waves, white smooth silk. DE FLEURS (Flowers) In the boredom, so drearily verdant, of the greenhouse of sorrow, the flowers entwine about my heart with their evil stems. Oh, when will those tenderly soothing hands reappear about my head? The large violet iris maliciously despoiled your eyes by seeming to mirror them -- them that were, in the dream, the water into which my illusions, so gently descended, enveloped in their color; And the lilies, white fountains of fragrant pistils, have lost their pure grace, and are but poor sick objects without sun. Sun! Friend of evil flowers, destroyer of dreams, destroyer of illusions, that blessed bread of souls in misery. Come! Come, oh hands of salvation! Break the glass panes of lies, break the glass panes of sorcery. My soul is dying of too much sun. Mirages! Nevermore will you bloom again in my eyes, and my hands are weary of praying, my eyes are weary of weeping. Eternally this senseless noise of black petals of boredom falling, drop by drop, on my head in the verdure of the greenhouse of sorrow. DE SOIR (Evening) Sunday over the cities, Sunday in the hearts, Sunday with the little girls singing with childish voices persistent tunes or gay rounds, and only a few days left for them. On Sunday the stations become frenzied. Everybody is set for some suburb or other, saying goodbye to one another with bewildered gestures. On Sunday the trains travel fast, devoured by insatiable tunnels, and the faithful road signal communicate, through a single eye, in altogether mechanical impressions. On Sunday, in the blue haze of my dreams, my sad thought of fireworks that were missed, will not leave off mourning for those Sundays that are gone. And the night, on velvet feet, puts the lovely, weary sky to sleep, and it is Sunday on the pathway of the stars, the Virgin of gold on silver let's fall the flowers of slumber. Quickly, little angels, overtake the swallows so that you may go to rest with your sins all forgiven. Have pity on the towns, have pity on the hearts, you, Virgin of gold on silver. LAZAR WEINER; FIVE YIDDISH SONGS GEBET (A Prayer) poem byA. Berger When during summer's fading days the blossoms sunlit drenched in radiance spread their scarlet hues among the golden, lead me Lord through the silent woods. Softly let my feet tread the paths where in Thy glory I bathe. Erase the strife of life, the fear that lingers in my soul each day. How peacefully winds the path of beauty freely stretching through woods and fields. Caressed in their glory, let me come near to Thee as in the days of yore now vanished in a rush, in a time no longer here. DOS GOLD FUN DAINE OIGN (The gold of your eyes) poem by S.I. Imber The gold of your eyes, the silver of your voice, with dazzling rays my vision have blinded. The faint breath of your stillness, your calm, profound and strong, have silently fettered my hands. Your timid, trembling charm, your youth, now red, now pale, with tenderness have crushed my heart. So ardent in your love, so ardent in your hate, they have sweetly drained my blood. VIG-LID (Slumber Song) poem by Peretz Markish The new moon has bewitched me with a song of silver. I am led by my snow-white goat from my gold crib, swinging high, led now where I may buy sweet raisins and almonds. Far at night sweet mother wakens. Watching mother's deep slumber, little goat stands guard close by. Gently mother rocks the bed, but I"m no longer there. Little snow-white goat and I go forth to buy sweet raisins and almonds. DI REID FUNEM NOVI (The Words of the Prophet) poem by Magister These are the words of the prophet to his people. The heavens declare his words and the earth pays heed to their meaning. Comfort ye, my people. A light will arise from the desert and bring to life forgotten forms from their deep slumber. The sun will shed it's life-giving radiance over the trees in the forests, over the fruits in the vineyards, over the blossoms that grow in the fields. And one man in greeting another will say: Peace and good will to you. And the other will answer, May you be blessed with peace and comfort. And enemies will meet as friends, and friends as comrades, and comrades as brothers and sisters. These tales will we tell to our children of many years ago: Poverty roamed the face of the earth and the hungry begged for naught but a morsel of bread. The weary passed away before their time and the blood of the innocent flowed as a stream over the earth. Horrible tales will we tell them, but no one, no one will ever believe them. Thus shall we mold us a monument, a token to remember for ever and ever more. DER YID MITN FIDL (The Jew and his fiddle) poem by A. Lutzky This song is in the form of a dialogue between a shiftless husband and a nagging wife. Yidl, the husband, has only one passion -- to play the fiddle. This is his life-work, although it brings no material return. His wife alternately pleads and scolds -- let him turn to something that will feed them, tailoring for instance. But Yidl, caught up in his musical rapture, fiddles on. HOWARD ROVICS: TO RUN AWAY (poem by Rivka Kashtan) And God said to me Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house, And the first man you meet Him you will love And for him you'll be a wife. I was packing my bag and my father said to me: Where are you going? And I said: Where my God commanded me Where my womb commanded me My breasts are full Even my hair is grown. And my father said to me: Oh no, with me you will stay! So I stayed with him seven days and I served him politely. Then on the seventh night quietly I took my bag It was in my hand when my father stood over me and my father said to me: Where are you going? Where my God commanded me Where my womb commanded me My breasts are full Even my hair is grown. And my father said to me: Oh no, with me you are staying. And I stayed with my father thirty days and I served him. Then on the thirtieth day I skipped through the gate No bag with me When I was still between the walls My father stood at the town's gates. Where are you going? Let me go, my father, Where my God commanded me Where my womb commanded me Look, my womb is bleeding and my breasts with milk And my hair that's grown. And my father said to me: Oh no, oh no, with me you are staying! And I stayed with my father a year. And I killed him at midnight. And I ran away from his home. I was still beautiful when I saw the man standing on my way waiting for me Awesome as my father His stature The beauty of his face His commanding eyes My father! My father! And in love I knelt My heart wide open My hair that was grown My breasts that were full And my legs like columns And he begot me his daughter. BIOS Christina Rovics credits the British bass Raymond Buckingham as the one teacher out of many who helped her to build her vocal technique. He also inspired her passion for teaching. She is a singer who has worked in many genres including sacred music, standard art song literature, cabaret, and new music. After studying at Eastman and Juilliard she spent four years in Mexico City and a year in Newfoundland, where she appeared on CBC radio and TV in art song recitals. She was invited by Gunther Schuller to perform the songs of William Flanagan at Tanglewood in 1981. A talented portrait painter since childhood, the Rovics' home displays many of her oils, watercolors and pastels. Howard Rovics is a Professor Emeritus of music having retired from 33 years of college teaching. He devotes his time to composing concert music, freelancing as an organist and accompanying Christina's voice students. ABOUT THE PROJECT 'Christina and I met in the fall of 1982, connected immediately on the level of shared musical interest and by the spring of 1983 gave our first of many recitals. In the span of over the next 20 years some of these programs were recorded either live or in small recording studios. Recordings helped us to grow and examine our work. In 1998 and 1999 we produced two commercial CDs under the guidance of North/South Recordings. A few years later Christina decided to retire from public performing while still in good form to devote herself to teaching. Music-making continues as a daily activity with as much intensity as ever. Now, in the age of self-publishing we are taking this opportunity to share our private collection by way of digital distribution in the form of these offerings. Watch for more in this series from our private archival collection.'