|Subtitle||for soprano and double bass|
|Text information||Text by Arthur Rimbaud (1886)|
|Technical requirements||2 scores required for performance.|
|Movements||I. le haut étant fume II. quand le monde sera reduit III. j'ai tendu des cordes IV. il sonne une cloche|
|Premiere||February 25, 2017; Columbia Composer’s Concert Series, DiMenna Center for Classical Music, NY; Charlotte Mundy (soprano) and Doug Balliet (double bass)|
|Commission||Commissioned by Departure Duo (Nina Guo, soprano and Eddie Kass, bass)|
|Authorized translations||Translation by the composer|
I wrote this short set of pieces in a week in January 2017 when I was feeling very agitated and restless musically — stuck in the middle of a piece but frantic, like tight-knit jittering of molecules in a solid. These songs are in part a reflection of that nervous energy and in part a reminder to myself that writing music can be as much an exercise in lightness and ease of the pen as it can be one of rigorous self-reflection and scrutiny.
The texts are excerpts from Rimbaud’s Phrases, which themselves feel like excerpts or fleeting fragments amidst longer aphorisms in his weird prose-suite Les Illuminations. Their aphoristic brevity exemplifies the abstract, ambiguous, but deeply beautiful language used throughout Les Illuminations. I don’t pretend to understand the poems, but rather usurp their words and sounds to reflect this restless quality they stir in me.
– Katherine Balch