Music of Christopher Fulkerson, Milton Babbit, Elliott Carter, and Peter Maxwell Davies
In Unedited Live Performances
Double CD Set Released in 2005. Price: $15, including postage
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3. 4. and 5. MICHELANGELO FANTASIES
I, II, AND IV
After the poem "D'altrui pietoso" by Michelangelo
Nos. II and IV recorded May 30, 1998, St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, San Francisco
The Michelangelo Fantasies are inspired by the following poem written by the great Renaissance artist:
D'altrui pietoso e sol di se spietato
nasce un vil bruto, che con pena e doglia
l'altrui man veste e la suo scorza spoglia
e sol per morte si puo dir ben nato.
Cosi volesse al mie signor mie fato
vestir suo viva di mie morta spoglia,
che, come serpe al sasso si discolgla,
pur per morte potria cangiar mie stato.
O fussi sol la mie l'irsuta pelle
che, del suo pel contesta, fa tal gonna
che con ventura stringe si bel seno,
ch'i' l'are' pure il giorno; o le pianelle
che fanno a quel di lor basa e colonna,
ch'i pur porterei duo nevi almeno.
Merciful to others and merciless
only to itself,
a lowly creature's born, who with pain and sorrow
clothes another's hand and strips off its own skin,
and only through death might be called truly born.
I wish it were my own fate thus to clothe
my lord's living body with my dead hide,
so, as a snake sheds its skin on a rock,
likewise through death could I change my condition.
Oh, if only the furry pelt were mine
which, with its woven hair, makes such a robe
that has the luck to bind so fair a breast,
so I'd have him in the daytime; or the slippers
that make themselves a base and support for him,
ao I might carry him for at least two snows.
From THE POETRY OF MICHELANGELO by James M. Saslow, published by Pale University Press. Used by Permission.
3. Michelangelo Fantasy I: DUO NEVI ("Two Snows") (1993) (7:06)
Computer Realization for Violin and Bass
4. Michelangelo Fantasy II: L'ALTRUI MAN VESTE ("Clothes Another's Hand") (1995) (9:05) for String Trio
John Casten, Violin; Uri Wassertzug, Viola; David Budd, Cello.
5. Michelangelo Fantasy IV: DEL SUO PEL CONTESTA ("With Its Billowing Hair")
Cadenzas and Miniatures (1996) (13:03) for Solo Violin, Two Violins and Two Violas
John Casten, Solo Violin; Andrea Bray, Cheryl Cain, Violins; Uri Wassertzug, Kate Button, Violas.
Christopher Fulkerson, Conductor
6. SCRITTI DI LEONARDO ("Writings of Leonardo") (1983) (18:23)
Recorded March 14, 1983, San Francisco MOMA
Text in Italian from the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci:
(Introduction): Pensa bene al fine; risguarda bene il fine
Think carefully about the end; consider the end first
Madrigal I: Di mi se mai fu fatta alcuna cosa...
Tell me if anything was ever done...
Aria I: E tirato dalla mia bramosa
foglia, vago di vedere la gran copia dalla artifiziosa natura, raggiratomi alquanto
infra gli ombrosi scogli, pervenni all'entrata d'una gran caverna; dinanzi alla
quale, restato alquanto stupefatto e ignorante di tal cosa... e spesso piegandomi
in qua e in la per vedere se dentro vi discernessi alcuna cosa; e questo vietatomi
per la grande oscuritta a che la entro era. E stato alquanto, subito salse in
me due cose, pauro e desidero: paura per la minaciante e scura spilonca, desidero
per vedere se la entro fusse alcuna miraculosa cosa.
And drawn by my ardent desire, anxious to see a great multitude of varied and strange shapes made by formative nature, having wandered for some distance among overhanging rocks, I came to the entrance of a great cavern, before which for a time I remain stupefied, having been unaware of its existence... and repeatedly bending first one way and then another to see whether I could discern anything from inside and from this I was prevented by the deep darkness within. And after remaining there for a time, suddenly there arose in me two emotions, fear and desire - fear of the threatening dark cavern, desire to see whether there might be any marvelous thing therein.
Madrigal II: De' fanciulli che stanno legati nelle fascie. - O citta marine! io veggo in voi i vostri cittadini, cosi femmine come maschi, essere istrettamente dei forti legami, colle braccia e gambe, esser legati da genti che non intenderanno i vostri linguaggi, e sol vi potrete isfogar li vostri dolori e perduta liberta mediante i lagrimosi pianti e li sospiri e lamentazione in fra voi medesimi, che chi vi lega non v'intendera, ne voi lo intenderete.
Of children wrapped in swaddling clothes. - O cities of the sea! in you I see your citizens both females and males, tightly bound, arms and legs, with strong bands by people who will not understand your language. And you will only be able to assuage your sorrows and lost liberty by means of tearful complaints and lamentations among yourselves; for those who will bind you will not understand you, not will you understand them.
Aria II: Come si deve figurare una notte. - ...Le figure che son fatto innanzi al fuoco appariscano scure nella chiarezza d'esso fuoco... e quelli che si trovano dai lati, sieno mezze scure a mezza rosseggiante: e quelle che si possono vedere dopo i termini della fiamme, saranno tutte illuminate di rosseggiante lume in campo nero. In quanto agli atti farai le figure che sono appresso farsi scudo con le mani e con i mantelli a riparo del soverchio calore, e, volte col viso in contraria parte, mostrar di fuggire: quelle piu lontane, farai gran parte di loro farsi con le mani riparo agli occhi offensi dal soverchio splendore.
How one may go about illustrating a night. - ...The figures which are seen against the fire look dark in the glare of the firelight; and those who are discovered at the side are half dark and half red, while those who are visible beyond the edges of the flames will be feebly lighted by the ruddy flow against a black background. As to their gestures, make the figures which are near it screen themselves with their hands and cloaks to ward off the intense heat, and some with their faces turned away as if drawing back. Of those further off, represent the better part of them with their hands raised to screen their eyes, hurt by the intolerable splendor of the flames.
Madrigal III: Poni mente per le strade, sul fare della sera, i volti d'omini e donne, quando e cattivo tempo, quanta grazia e dolcezza si vade in loro.
Observe how much grace and sweetness are to be seen in the faces of men and women in the streets, with the approach of evening in bad weather.
Aria III: La sperienze non fall mai, ma sol fallano i vostri giudizzi, promettendosi di quella effetto tale che in e vostri experimenti causita non sono. La sperienza non fall mai, ma sol fallano i nostri giudizzi, promettendosi di lei cose che sono in sua potesta. ...con eterno silenzio resta ogni arguizione, a con pace sono fruite dai vere scienze devoti il che far non possono le bugiarde scienze mentali.
Experience never errs; it is only your judgement that errs in promising itself results as are not caused by your experiments. Experience does not err; it is only your judgement that errs in expecting from her what is not in her power... all argument is reduced to eternal silence, and those who are devoted to the true sciences can enjoy them with a peace which the lying sciences of the mind can never attain.
(Conclusion): ...Perche, dato un principio, e necessario che cio che siguita di quello e vera consequenza di tal principio...
...Because, given a beginning, what follows from it must be its true consequence...
(Sources of the Texts: Cod. H 139v; Kenneth Clark LEONARDO DA VINCI, p. 147; Arundel 155r; Atlanticus 145r; Ashburnham 17a; Atlanticus 100v; AH 86 ra; Atlanticus 154a; Trattato 29; Atlanticus 154a.)
The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, with Ariel, a Contemporary Vocal Ensemble: Patrick Neve, Tenor Solo; Elizabeth Engan, Marcia Gronewold, Kevin Ames, and Samuel Bittner, Madrigal Quartet; Janet Lawrence, Flute; James Dukey, Bass Clarinet; Nancy Ellis, Viola; Paul Binkly, Guitar; Marcella DeCray, Harp.
Christopher Fulkerson, Conductor
7. CONCERTO FOR HARPSICHORD (1979) (9:06)
Recorded November 25, 1981, Hertz Hall, U.C.Berkeley
Jonathan Shiff, Harpsichord; Charles May, Oboe; Larry London, Clarinet; Jerome Couture, Mandolin;
Larry Ferrara, Guitar; Marcella DeCray, Harp; Dana Lines, Violin; Elinor Nishi, Viola.
Eric Hansen, Conductor
CD II: 77:26
1. VIOLIN FANTASY, Palimpsest on Bach (1979) (18:03)
Recorded February 14, 1986, Vorpal Gallery, San Francisco
Maryvonne LeDizes, Violin
2. SHEER MAGIC MUSIC (1990) (6:55)
Paganini Variations and a Fantasy for Eight Antiphonal Female Voices
Recorded November 1, 10990, CSU Hayward
The Virtuose of the San Francisco Girls Chorus: Cathleen Ellis, Mihoko Ito, Caren Anderson,
Sita Griffith, Michelle Clair, Natasha Hoehn, Jennie Bemesderfer, Jocelyn Enriquez.
Elizabeth Appling, Conductor
Milton Babbitt (b.
3. MORE PHONEMENA (1978) (13:53)
Recorded November 7, 1983, San Francisco MOMA
Ariel, a Contemporary Vocal Ensemble: Elizabeth Engan, Gail MacGowan, Susan Narucki,
Elizabeth Bice, Marcia Gronewold, Hannah Jo Smith, Kevin Ames, Daniel Weymouth,
Daniel Stanley, Paul Attinello, James Meade, Samuel Bittner.
Christopher Fulkerson, Conductor
The "text" for this piece consists of syllables, not unlike Jazz "scat," that have been created through the same serial operations as all the other parameters of the music.
Elliott Carter (b. 1908)
4. SYRINGA (1978) (18:58)
Recorded November 16, 1986, Old First Church, San Francisco
English Poem by John Ashbery; Greek Texts from the Ancient Writers
The Composers Chamber Players: Marcia Gronewold, Mezzo Soprano; John Conry, Bass; Douglas Hensley, Guitar;
Janet Kutulas, Alto Flute; Jon Arneson, English Horn; Scott Anderson, Bass Clarinet; Don Baker, Percussion;
Terri Sternberg, Violin; Ruth Sudmeier, Viola; Judiyaba, Cello; Timothy Spears, Contrabass; Dwight Okamura, Piano.
Christopher Fulkerson, Conductor
The text is in two languages: the Mezzo Soprano sings SYRINGA by John Ashbery, and the Baritone sings texts in Classical Greek selected by the composer.
Peter Maxwell Davies (b. 1934)
5. WESTERLINGS (1977) (18:58)
Text in English by George Mackay Brown
Recorded March 26, 1984, Hertz Hall, U.C. Berkeley
Ariel, a Contemporary Vocal Ensemble: Elizabeth Bice, Elizabeth Engan, Renee Fladen-Kamm,
Marcia Gronewold, Gail MacGowan, Susan Narucki, Vicki Shaghoian, Hannah Jo Smith,
Kevin Ames, John Conry, Ken Cramer, David Hess, Conrad Knipfel, Raymond Martinez, Daniel Weymouth.
Christopher Fulkerson, Conductor
CLICK HERE to read the kind inscription that Sir Peter made into CF's copy of the score of WESTERLINGS. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is the senior statesman of musical composition in Britain, where he is Master of the Queen's Music.
From the Composer's Note published in the score: "The text of WESTERLINGS was specially written by the Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown and concerns the sea voyage of the first Norse settlers from Scandinavia to Orkney in the eighth century. I have introduced and separated my settings of these four poems by vocalised 'seascapes,' and end with a version of the Pater Noster in traditional Orkney Norn."
A Choral Cycle
2. A Golden Whale
Oarsmen, we drive a golden whale
Westward each day. We stain the west
In welters of crimson, and yet are hungry.
What lures us after the whale of the sun?
The Dragon had taken stag and boar,
All the young heroes. Our doors were hungry.
3. Seascape II
4. The Ancient Tryst
Fish did not keep the ancient tryst.
A sea without a centre. The nets empty.
Fishing-boats warped, made barren furrows.
A black hoof whirled on our coast. Young girls
To the forest brought. The hearts
Of hunter and hungerer coldly furrowed.
5. Seascape III
6. Our Gods Uncaring
Our gods uncaring. They withered, died.
Die all. Let Baldur only return
With grass and birds, to men winter-hungry.
We have taken the road of a golden ghost.
Each sunset we kill him. Each dawn
Our hands hang, scarlet and hungry.
7. Seascape IV
Helmsman, what landfall soon?
We have broken a hundred horizons,
Sieved wave and wind, and still are hungry.
We will come to a land thick with gleams of the sun -
Plough, and harrow, scythe and flail and quern.
You will bend the back, oarsmen, to kinder furrows.
9. Prayer (Orkney Norn Pater Noster)
Favor I ir (i) chimrie,
Helleur ir I nam thite.
Gilla cosdum thite cumma.
Veya thine mota var gort o yurn sinna gort I chimrie.
Ga vus da on da dalight brow vora.
Firgive vus sinna vora sin vee firgive sindara mutha vus.
Lyv vus ye I tuntation,
Min delivera vus fro olt ilt.
With thanks to all the performers
and recording engineers, and many others, easily more than a hundred people,
PROGRAMS FEATURING MUSIC OF CF