Songs of Li Po

(2002)

by Jonathan Harvey

Description
mezzo soprano, strings, percussion and harpsichord
Duration
13
Genres
Solo Voices with Orchestra
Text
Li Po translated by David Hinton
Instrumentation
perc(2): 2 small drums/tpl.bl/wdbl/2 small drums/t.bells/11 tuned Thai gongs/2 guero/2 tgl/steel pans - harpsichord - strings (55442)
Languages
English
Commission

Commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival

First Performance
20.6.02, UK, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings Concert Hall: Sarah Connolly/Northern Sinfonia/Pierre-André Valade
Availability

Full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Songs of Li Po was commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival. Three poems by Li Po are set for mezzo-soprano, twenty strings, two percussion and harpsichord. With a sideways glance at Mahler - who set very romanticised translations of the eighth century Li Po in Das Lied von der Erde - a mezzo is used and pentatonic harmonies too. David Hinton's translations bring out the curious elliptical style of the original, cutting out small connecting words in a chiselled style suggesting absolute presence in the Nature about which the poet writes. Li Po is a solitary wanderer who, with buddhist detachment and sometimes wry humour, glides through awesome landscapes caring nothing for health or safety. His rapture is one of identification: and the work progresses from the tumultuousness of mountain cascades to the silence of sitting before a mountain and ceasing to be - a transcendent diminuendo. Jonathan Harvey

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