I. ABOUT THE ARTISTS
II. PROGRAMME NOTES
III. TRANSLATIONS (LITERAL)
I. ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Sally Light - Born to parents who were professional classical musicians, Sally Light began singing and memorizing classical music as a very young child. She has studied with notable teachers, including voice with Ruth Chamlee and Mario Carta, dance with Carmen de Lavallade (at the Lester Horton Studio), and acting with Brendan Dylan (formerly of the Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland). She has performed in Europe and the U.S., and one of her favorite credits is performing in the West Coast premiere of Scott Joplin's ragtime opera, "Treemonisha," at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Her debut CD album (2008), with well-known San Francisco - Bay Area accompanists Miles Graber and Christopher Salocks, contains rarely-heard as well as never-before recorded music by Pizzetti, Alexander Tcherepnin, Ernst Bacon, Liszt, and other composers, and has become a best-selling vocal album with CD Baby. She holds a B.A. degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a J.D. law degree from New College of California School of Law, and she has been listed twice in "Who's Who of American Women."
Miles Graber - Miles Graber received his musical training at the Juilliard School, where he studied with Anne Hull, Phyllis Kreuter, Hugh Aitken, and Louise Behrend. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1971, and has delveloped a wide reputation as an accompanist and collaborative pianist for instrumentalists and singers. He has performed with numerous solo artists, including Itzhak Perlman, Sarah Chang, Cho-Liang Lin, Camilla Wicks, Axel Strauss, Mimi Stillman, and Judith LeClair. He currently performs frequently with violinists Christina Mok and Mariya Borozina, flutists Gary Woodward and Amy Likar, and clarinettist Tom Rose. He is a member of the chamber groups Trio Concertino, MusicAEterna, and the Sor Ensemble. Miles and Arkadi Serper comprise the two-piano team Scorpio Duo. He is currently a staff accompanist and chamber music coach in the Preparatory Division of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a regular staff accompanist at the Northern California Flute Camp in Carmet Valley.
II. PROGRAMME NOTES
Most of these pieces are either unknown to the U.S. listener or rarely heard in the U.S. Even the ones likely to be familiar, “I Love You” by Edvard Grieg and “Gypsy Songs” No. 4 by Dvorak (often called “Songs My Mother Taught Me” in English) are usually performed in German in the U.S., rather than in their respective original languages, Danish and Czech as performed in this CD. Original languages lend an authentic quality to the composers’ intents. Of course, for literal translations, please see section III below.
Songs by Edvard Grieg:
“Spring Rain” – Grieg’s setting of this fairytale-like poem (elves strumming the “strings” of rain; remembrances of one’s childhood) is beautifully lyrical as well as modern-seeming for his time. It is sometimes difficult to realize he was a contemporary of Tchaikovsky and Dvorak.
“From Mt. Pincio” - Mount Pincio is one of Rome’s “seven hills.” Here, the poet describes sunset’s transition into night as seen from Mt. Pincio, overlooking Rome, and commenting on impressions of life and nature from this high perch, in rather a stream-of-consciousness style.
“I Love You” – This old favorite, as mentioned above, is usually heard in German in the U.S. The original Danish poem, by Hans Christian Andersen, famed author of children’s fairy tales, is a short, sincere, passionate declaration of love.
From Grieg’s song-cycle “Haugtussa” (“The Mountain Girl”) – Grieg considered his songs among his best compositions, especially those from “Haugtussa”:
“The Singing” – As in “Spring Rain” (see above), the words draw on folktale traditions of Norway – there is magic everywhere. It alludes to different dimensions of mind and spirit – especially night with its “outstretched wings” which day cannot understand.
“Tryst” – Describes the first tryst of a young couple on the mountainside.
“At the Brookside” – The piano is the brook, the voice is that of the mountain girl seeking solace for her broken heart. The words are imaginative, full of delight, dreams, recollections, sadness and the longing to forget. The journey of the brook is imagined by the girl.
Songs by Alexander Tcherepnin:
Tcherepnin’s life was an international one – born in Russia, he and his renowned father (composer & conductor, Nikolai Tcherepnin) moved to Paris when Tcherepnin was young, but he later moved to America and also spent time in Asia (China and Japan). Tcherepnin viewed Russian culture and language to be deeply influenced by East Asia, and his music often shows an east-west blend. There is a renewed interest in his music now happening. The first 3 songs here are very French in style (from his time in Paris during the 1920s), while the 4th song (a setting of a Chinese poem, in Russian) is from the 1940s and is influenced by Chinese music. “Le Seigneur et Moi” and “A l’heure du matin” are from his song-cycle “Huit Melodies” (“Eight Songs”) which was dedicated to soprano Mary Garden.
“Le Seigneur et Moi” (“The Lord and I”) - A pact with God to live simply, with reverence for Earth.
“A l’heure du matin” (“In the Morning Hour”) – A musician experiences divine illumination.
“Les Yeux bleus et la Rose” (“The Blues Eyes and the Rose”) – A simple soul’s view of God and man.
“Awakening of Spring” – Spring’s inspiring uplift – sun, birdsong -- and also its darker secrets – night storms, falling blossoms.
Songs by Pyotr Tchaikovsky:
The two songs here are but a small part of the many romances Tchaikovsky created – gems in miniature. They are sadly neglected in the U.S.
“The Fearful Moment” – Tchaikovsky himself wrote the words (describing the breathless, silent moment of awaiting the answer to a marriage proposal). Few know that he wrote words to several of his own songs, and they are beautiful poems! In this song, there are similarities to his music for the ballet “Swan Lake” which was written also about the same time.
“Had I But Known” – Tolstoi’s great poem of a young girl regretting her love for a young, dashing man who passed through her village.
“Gypsy Songs”(“Ciganske Melodie”) by Antonin Dvorak:
These seven songs are a setting of a poem by distinguished Czech poet, Alfred Heyduk, Dvorak’s contemporary. Although written in Czech, the first publication of the songs was in a German translation (provided by Dvorak to his publisher in Berlin, Simrock, who had refused the Czech version), so most listeners have heard these pieces in German. This CD’s version is in Czech, which seems to fit the music created specifically for the Czech verses – whereas the German sounds less Gypsy and more like lieder.
Dvorak loved Gypsies and their music, and would listen to them play whenever possible. As these verses are based on folktales, there is at times a touch of wildness in the complex rhythms and tempi.
III. TRANSLATIONS (LITERAL)
Songs by Edvard Grieg (1843 - 1907):
1.“Spring Rain” - Words by H. Drachmann (in Danish).
The ringing is from delicate instruments, and if you bend the green leaves to one side, you will see the park elves where they glide their slender hands over strings. O strings! My childhood’s cherished memories! Then went I, intoxicated, in the spring showers and sang my own soul-gladness! And, listening, stood bush and bloom and leaf … while the bird fluttered away to his beloved.
The ringing now, as then, comes from delicate strings, and softly whistles through slender foliage: See the bushes are rustling, and a cascade of pearly tones is trilling over the rocks – I add my tears to the rains’ tones. Come, come here, elf, hiding behind the leaves, the spring rain brings healing and soul-delight, even if melancholy quivers within the song, to which the tree nods its heavy crown.
2.“From Mount Pincio” – Words by Bjornstjerne Bjornson (in Norwegian)
Evening comes, sun is red, colored rays pour into the room their light-longing splendor and endless fullness, transfiguring the mountain into a face like that of death. Cupolas glow, but farther away mist comes over the meadow’s blue-black rocks like early oblivion, cloaking it with a thousand-years’ veil. Evening, red and warm…blazes of people’s noises…glowing horn music…blooms of dark glances…one’s thoughts strive to reconcile these colors and sounds.
Silence falls in darker blue, and heaven watches and awaits the Past that slumbers and the Future that hides in an unsure blaze in the gloomy gray. But starting to gather itself, Rome arises, illuminated in night before Italy’s realm, as bells chime and cannons roar … memories flame blue in the Future. Hope and faith gracefully rise up to two newlyweds…a singer rejoices…playing a zither and flute. More urgent longings go to a childlike rest, the lesser ones dare awaken and smile.
3. “I Love You” – Words by Hans Christian Andersen (in Danish)
You have become the thoughts of my thought; you are my heart’s first great love; I love you as none other here on Earth. I love you for all time and eternity.
From Grieg’s song-cycle, “Haugtussa” (“The Mountain Girl”) – Words by Arne Garborg (in Norwegian)
4. “The Singing”
O you know the dream and you know the song, for long have you heard it and never can forget it. O weaver of spells, with me shall you be, in the Blue Mountains shall you your silver spinning wheel turn. You shall not fear the gentle night where dreams spread their wings in softer light than day possessed and with gentler tones on strings. Asleep are the meadows, suspended is all strife, for day cannot know this blissful time.
You shall not fear the passion that sins and weeps and forgets; his embrace is hot, but his heart is mild, and he tames the bear’s anger. O weaver of spells, with me shall you be, in the Blue Mountains shall you your silver spinning wheel turn.
She sits on Sunday on the hillside; sweet thoughts flow through her and her heart beats heavily, and then her dream awakes, leaving her trembling and tender. Then he appears, walking over the moor; she blushes hot; there comes her handsome boy. Suddenly she hides in confusion, but stops, entranced, turning her eyes to him; they take one another’s warms hands and stand thus there, not knowing what to do. Then she bursts out in admiration: “My dear, you are so tall!”
And as the day grows to the evening hour, ever more and more longingly they draw together, and suddenly throw their arms around each other and in a daze seek one another mouth to mouth. Everything swims suddenly, and there in the warm evening in hot bliss she sleeps within his arms.
6. “At the Brookside”
You babbling brook, you rippling brook, there lie you happily warm and clear. And splash yourself clean and glide over stone and murmur so nicely and whisper so low, and glitter in the sun with gentle waves. O here will I rest, rest.
You tickling brook, you trickling brook, you run so happily through the bright slopes, with gurgles and chuckles, with songs and sighs, with hustle and bustle through your leafy house, with strange swells and with soft flowing. O here will I dream, dream.
You humming brook, you murmuring brook, here make you your bed under the soft moss. Here dream you awhile, forgetting your cares, and whisper and sing in utter peace, bringing balm for melancholy and for painful longing. O here will I remember, remember.
You wandering brook, you swirling brook, what think you while on your long way? Through empty spaces? Between bushes and blooms? When inside the earth you hide, and when you find yourself again? Truly, have you seen so lonesome a one as I? O here will I forget, forget…. forget, forget.
You swishing brook, you rippling brook, you play in the grove, you hum in peace. And smile at the sun and laugh on your way and wander so far and learn so much… O sing not of what I am thinking now.
O let me find sleep, sleep…. sleep, sleep!
Songs by Alexander Tcherepnin (1899 - 1977):
7. “Le Seigneur et Moi” (“The Lord and I”) – Words by A. Block after Gorodezky (in French)
The Lord and I have made a pact: That I must create as He does, always. And it is good thus to live through my acts, and to love the Earth with a happy love.
It is very possible that in space there exist other pacts, easier, but among men, in the time now passing, I do not want any other than the one I have.
8. “A l’heure du matin” (“In the morning hour”) – Words by A. Block after Gorodezky (in French)
In the morning hour, on seizing my lyre, I hear a new sound, troubling and unknown. It is like the Ark of God, the welcome savior. I sense that my spirit is leading me toward Him.
I believe that around me are beautiful, celestial guides guiding me afar toward the heights of heaven.
There on high, I shall sing, after my cruel sufferings, touching with winged fingers translucent strings.
9. “Les Yeux bleus et la Rose” (“The Blue Eyes and the Rose”) – Words by G. de Saix after Gorodezky (in French)
Of God I know nothing except that He has blue eyes. There is nothing more to say, I suppose, at the foot of miraculous heaven.
Of men I know nothing except that a rose is their heart. I have picked the most beautiful rose in the tender garden of the Lord!
10. “Awakening of Spring” – Words by Mon Hao Jan ( Russian version by the composer)
Sun has risen. The birds are twittering….Ah…Ah…Ah… After the night’s storm, flowers have been falling.
Songs by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893):
11. “The Fearful Moment” – Words by the composer (in Russian)
You are listening closely, your head to one side, eyes lowered and gently sighing! You do not know how fearful these moments are for me and how full of meaning they are, how this silence embarrasses me. I await your sentence, I await your decision – either you are plunging a knife into my heart or are bringing me joy. Ah, don’t torment me, say at least a word!
Why does this tender confession so deeply trouble you? You sigh, tremble and weep: is it either that your lips cannot say words of love or that you pity me, do not love me? I await your sentence, I await your decision – either you are plunging a knife into my heart or are bringing me joy! Ah, heed my prayer, answer now! I await your sentence, I await your decision!
12. “Had I But Known” – Words by A.K. Tolstoy (in Russian)
Had I but known, had I but realized, I would not have looked though my little window at the dashing youth, how he rode down our street, with his cap at a jaunty angle, how his great stallion reared up beneath my window sill!
Had I but known, had I but realized, I would not have made myself beautiful for him – wearing my golden-hemmed skirt, my hear in a long braid – Rising at dawn and running over the dew to the end of the village, waiting and watching for him on the highway, to see if he would come, with his falcon on his wrist. Had I but known, had I but realized!
Had I but known, had I but realized, I would not have sat until late evening on the hill near the old well, longing and hoping ---He does not come, my beloved – Ah……..!
Had I but known, had I but realized…….
“Gypsy Songs” by Antonin Dvorak (1841 - 1904). Words by Alfred Heyduk (in Czech):
13. “Gypsy Songs” No. 1
My song of love goes forth when the old day is dying and the shy moss is covered with secret pearls of dew.
My song of love reaches out longingly to Mt. Puzta, where, I once would wander barefoot and free by the immense river.
My song of love resonates over the plain where tempests storm, and even when brother death approaches.
14. “Gypsy Songs” No. 2
Ay! How my triangle rings joyfully with the gypsy song! Even though it may mean that death is near!
When death comes, it’s the end of songs and dancing, and the end of love’s longings!
15. “Gypsy Songs” No. 3
The forest is silent all around, and yet my heart is full of sorrow; the tears stream down my cheeks stained with the campfire’s ashes.
Yet it is unseemly to weep so, for if he who sorrows can sing, he does not perish, he lives, he lives!
16. “Gypsy Songs” No. 4
When my old mother would sing to me, sing of all she knew, I would be surprised at how, often, her eyes would fill with tears.
And now I am old, and my own cheeks are sallow with suffering, and I, too, cry when I hear the Gypsy children sing and play, sing and play our teachings!
17. “Gypsy Songs” No. 5
Tune the strings, lad, join the circle! Today, perhaps, is happy, but tomorrow may be sad!
Since ancient days by the Nile, for a hundred years, it is always thus: tune the strings, and join the dance!
18. “Gypsy Songs” No. 6
With wide sleeves and simple breeches, the simple way is better for the Gypsy than a wealthy life!
Gold and beautiful clothes weigh the Gypsy down, and thus his song dies!
But he who brings joy and song, deserves all the world’s gold!
19. “Gypsy Songs” No. 7
The wild hawk prefers his precarious nest in the high mountains to a cage of gold.
Proud horses running free do not like stirrups and bridle.
And, likewise, the Gypsy’s spirit always seeks freedom from restraint, seeks liberty!