Instrumentation: voice and piano
Poems by: William Butler Yeats
Duration: 18 minutes
Composed: 2007, 2015
Premiere: March 20, 2007 by Adriana Zabala (mezzo-soprano) and Gregg Kallor at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City
*The Mermaid premiere: April 28, 2015 by Adriana Zabala (mezzo-soprano) and Gregg Kallor at SubCulture New York
*When You Are Old premiere: April 28, 2015 by Matthew Worth (baritone) and Gregg Kallor at SubCulture New York
William Butler Yeats’ lilting rhythms and gorgeous language – the very sounds of his words – are captivating, but it’s the immediacy of his poems that I find so moving. He navigates fluidly between towering pride and self-effacement – shouting, whispering, cajoling, imploring, and enthralling with a storyteller’s magic. One of the things I love about Yeats is that he’s so confident and bold in one poem, and then so completely vulnerable in the next.
Yeats rhapsodizes with sublime arrogance about the moment of creative inspiration in Ribh In Ecstasy, likening his creative prowess to the earth-shattering orgy of gods spawning new gods. Then, as suddenly as it comes, the moment passes, and he leaves us in literary post-coital bliss.
In He Wishes for the Cloths of heaven, Yeats gives us an exquisitely tender expression of love that breaks my heart every time I read it. He writes:
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
The songs in this set are grouped in pairs that highlight these two sides of Yeats’ poetry. And it ends, as all cycles should, with a drinking song. Cheers.
Ribh In Ecstasy
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
The Lady's First Song
When You Are Old
A Drunken Man's Praise of Sobriety
Recordings of Yeats Songs: