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Look Inside

Michael Hersch

anonymous beneath the lemon trees

seven songs after text fragments of Utler, Kociejowski, Fleischmann, Middleton, Karim and Thucydides

(2021)
Text informationTexts by Anja Utler, Marius Kociejowski, Christopher Middleton, Stephanie Fleischmann and Fawzi Karim used with permission.
Translation of Thucydides by Benjamin Jowett in public domain.
Duration20'
Movements

7 movements

CommissionCommissioned by Decoda Ensemble
PremiereMarch 23, 2022; Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York; Decoda Ensemble • Alice Teyssier, soprano
LanguageEnglish
Instrumentationsoprano
bassoon
piano
2 violins
viola
violoncello
contrabass
PublisherPSNY

Program Note

Michael Hersch: anonymous beneath the lemon trees (2020/21)
seven songs after text fragments of Utler, Kociejowski, Fleischmann, Middleton, Karim and Thucydides [world premiere]

Program Note by Decoda co-Artistic Director Brad Balliett

My first experience with the music of Michael Hersch was playing bassoon in his orchestral piece end stages with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in 2017. The work struck me as tense, fiercely introverted, and utterly fascinating. The eruptions of sound and the gestures groping from the depths of the orchestra brought to mind an alien urban landscape: the sounds themselves became structures, exquisitely constructed and painstakingly polished. This architecture in sound was unlike any orchestral piece I had played before, and I wasn’t totally sure what to think, besides that I wanted to hear more.

In exploring Hersch’s output over the subsequent years, I discovered a common thread: the feeling of hearing the sound of the human voice behind each work, even in instrumental pieces like his Symphonies, chamber music, and Concertos. There is a sense that the composer has sung every single line in each score, and even, occasionally, that there may be phantom words behind the monuments of sound.

The voice does play an outsized role in Mr. Hersch’s recent output, which includes numerous song cycles, several chamber music works with voice, and two full-length operas. And this new score, a set of seven songs on texts by a wide variety of authors both ancient and contemporary, feels in some ways like a distillation of song and opera. The music veers in emotional intensity from frantic whispers to guttural screams. The texts are elusive, and conjure images of violence, frustration, the inexorability of time, and the need to communicate without the ability to do so. And together, there emerges the dim outline of some overwhelming narrative, compressed in a crucible of the inaccessible past and the cutting-edge future, into a new and multi-faceted musical form.

The composer provides the following notes on the experience of composing the piece:

“anonymous beneath the lemon trees was written during the spring/summer of 2020. It became clear that in addition to the escalating physical illness and death, the vice-like momentums of closures, physical and psychological, both forced and self-directed, cultivated a particular kind of destruction. Whether coupled or decoupled, the physical and psychological dismantling of so many people was horrifying. What has been lost will take time to fully assess. The poets and writers whose texts are represented within this work all address issues of illness, of violences, in and around the body - illnesses from within and without from varying periods of the past; their writing reflecting confrontations with the splintered landscapes of their own particular experiences and imaginations.

When looking back on the writing this work and that time a few years ago, the words of poet and astronomer Rebecca Elson (1960-1999), whose texts are not set in this cycle, came to mind:

‘... They are terrifying, these mushrooms, the way they push up overnight ... and you know they are feeding off decay, that death is just below the surface ... and they grow so fast ... I would go out into the night as in a nightmare, and rip them up, and scatter them, with my bare hands, but the death would still be there ...’”

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Score and part (Print)

Score and part (Digital)

Choral Score Set - 16 copies (Print)
Includes 8 copies of the soprano/alto part and 8 copies of the tenor/bass part.

Piano Reduction and solo parts (Digital)

Chamber Ensemble Score (Print)

Full Score/Performance Score (4 required for performance) (Digital)

Full Score/Performance Score (4 required for performance) (Print)

Choral Score (includes 4 copies) (Print)

Anthology edition (Print)

Full Score in 3 volumes (Print)

Choral Booklet (Print)

Choral Booklet (Digital)

Full Score/Performance Score (includes 3 copies) (Print)

Full Score/Performance Score (includes 3 copies) (Digital)

Full Score/Performance Score (2 required for performance) (Print)

Full Score/Performance Score (2 required for performance) (Digital)

Full Score (3 scores needed for performance) (Digital)

Performance Score (includes 4 scores) (Print)

Full Score (3 scores needed for performance) (Print)

Full score and Solo Part (Digital)

Full Score/Performance Score (6 scores required for performance) (Digital)

solo part and piano reduction (Print)

solo part and piano reduction (Digital)

Parts (Mov. 11 only) (Print)

Full Score (4 needed for performance) (Print)

Choral Score Set - 20 copies (Print)

Full Score/Violin Part (Digital)

Full Score/Violin Part (Print)

Conductor Score (Print)

Study Score in Two Volumes (Print)

Piano reduction and solo part (Print)

Piano/Vocal Score (Print)

Piano/Vocal Score (Digital)

Video and instructions (Digital)

Score and Parts (Digital)
Score and part PDF files are delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase.

Soprano/Alto Part (Print)

Full Score (Digital)
A PDF file of the full score is delivered via email upon receipt.

Tenor/Bass Part (Print)

Full Score (Print)
A print edition of the score ships to the customer's address upon receipt.

Parts (Digital)
A PDF file of the part(s) is delivered via email upon receipt.

Parts (Print)
A print edition of the part(s) ship to the customer's address upon receipt.

Solo Instrument Score (Digital)
A score PDF file is delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Full Score/Performance Score (Digital)
The full score serves as a performance score for all players. A score PDF file is delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Score and Parts (Print)
A print edition of the score and part(s) ship to the customer's address upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. The email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer.

Solo Instrument Score (Print)
A print edition of the score is shipped to the customer's address upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Full Score/Performance Score (Print)
The full score serves as a performance score for all players. Print edition(s) of the full score/performance score are shipped to the customer's address upon receipt. Multiple copies are included if the work has more than one player. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase.

Choral Score (Digital)
A PDF file of the choral score is delivered via email upon receipt. The set is priced to allow multiple copies of the PDF to be printed for performance by the purchasing organization only.

Study Score (print) (Digital)

Study Score (print) (Print)

Choral Score Set- 8 copies (Print)
Minimum order quantity is 8 copies. Single copies are not available.

Vocal Score (Digital)

SATB choral score (Print)

Vocal Score (Print)

Choral Score (Print)

Full Score and Solo Part (Print)
A print edition of the score and solo part ships to the customer's address upon receipt.

Mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone score (Print)

Study Score (Print)

Study Score (Digital)

SATB choral score (Digital)

Mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone score (Digital)