Now posted on Mimi’s YouTube channel: Claude Debussy’s songs Romance, Les Cloches, and Voici que le printemps from Mimi’s book of arrangements Nuits d’étoiles: 8 Early Songs (Theodore Presser Company). Performed by Mimi Stillman, flute and Natalie Zhu, piano from Dolce Suono Ensemble’s “Debussy as Painter of Song” concert at Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, May 2013.
I gave this performance of Syrinx at my Dolce Suono Ensemble’s closing concert of the 2012-2013 season on May 19, 2013 (but did not have it ready for posting on the actual day). The concert was entitled “Debussy as Painter of Song,” in which I performed with stellar musicians Sarah Shafer, soprano and Natalie Zhu, piano. Our program featured Debussy’s song cycle Ariettes oubliées, songs I arranged for flute and piano, Arabesques for piano, and Syrinx, and the seven winning works from Dolce Suono Ensemble’s first Young Composers Competition. It was a festive afternoon of wonderful and varied music at the lovely Field Concert Hall at Curtis Institute of Music, where all three of us performers studied.
Today’s Syrinx made me think of Debussy’s song setting of Paul Verlaine’s poem Green, in his song cycle Ariettes Ariettes oubliées. Soprano Sarah Shafer and pianist Natalie Zhu’s marvelous performance of the songs at Dolce Suono Ensemble’s May 19 concert “Debussy as Painter of Song” is still with me. Here, the text:
Paul Verlaine, Green
Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles et des branches
Et puis voici mon cœur qui ne bat que pour vous.
Ne le déchirez pas avec vos deux mains blanches
Et qu’à vos yeux si beaux l’humble présent soit doux.
J’arrive tout couvert encore de rosée
Que le vent du matin vient glacer à mon front.
Souffrez que ma fatigue, à vos pieds reposée,
Rêve des chers instants qui la délasseront.
Sur votre jeune sein laissez rouler ma tête
Toute sonore encore de vos derniers baisers;
Laissez-la s’apaiser de la bonne tempête,
Et que je dorme un peu puisque vous reposez.
Translation by Rita Benton:
Here are fruits, flowers, leaves and branches,
And then here is my heart, which beats only for you.
Do not tear it apart with your two white hands,
And to your eyes so lovely, may this humble present seem sweet.
I arrive all covered still with dew,
That the morning wind turns to frost on my brow.
Permit my fatigue, reposing at your feet,
To dream of the cherished moments which will refresh it.
On your young bosom, let my head lie,
Full of ringing still from your last kisses;
Let it be calmed after the good tempest,
And let me sleep a little, since you are resting.
This afternoon I rehearsed with brilliant pianist Natalie Zhu, who will join Dolce Suono Ensemble as guest artist on Sunday, May 19 for “Debussy as Painter of Song,” a concert featuring Debussy’s songs, Arabesques, Syrinx, and the winning compositions of Dolce Suono Ensemble’s Young Composers Competition. Splendid soprano Sarah Shafer will sing, but today we played the flute and piano works. Afterwards I played Syrinx for Natalie’s daughter Clara and family friend Mary.
Looking at the Ariettes oubliées that Sarah Shafer and Natalie Zhu will perform on Dolce Suono Ensemble’s upcoming concert “Debussy as Painter of Song” on May 19, reading an essay written by Debussy as Monsieur Croche, his nom de plume, surrounded by Debussy scores and books on an afternoon of music and scholarship. I am constantly learning something new about Debussy’s life and music on this fascinating journey.