Although Music as Climate is written for bass and piano, it is best sung by a baritone. The many high notes which have to be articulated so quickly would put it out of range of most actual basses, unless falsetto is used. With shades of American-influenced minimalism, note patterns are constantly repeated. The pitches are frequently doubled in the piano, thus relieving much of the potential strain on the singer. The whole effect is most fascinating and agreeable, even to the first-time listener. The poem is full of fetching images and musical allusions which make it a perfect vehicle for a setting of this kind; pretentiousness is skilfully avoided. It is perhaps courting danger to open with the lines ‘Despite or because of all the wrong notes, the desired effect was in the end achieved’. Unschooled audiences may be tempted to snigger, but perhaps this lightly ironic beginning is meant to focus attention and prepare the listener for the more expansive descriptions that follow. The language fluctuates naturally between full-blown expressionism and stark practicality, the two perfectly balanced. The consonants are exceptionally well used for clarity of attack and colour; vocal practicalities are turned into felicitous, interpretative touches, often delicately understated. Vocal style is mainly non-expressionistic in contrast to some parts of the text.
KeywordsFatigue Quartz Cage Explosive Tempo
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