for Mezzo-Soprano, Pianoforte, and Violoncello.
Music by Vern Pat Nelson.
Poems by Ted Hughes, from "Moortown"
The Virgin - The Womb - The Virgin Knight.
AVAILABLE ON CD!!!
This beautiful and mysterious song-cycle has been peformed by perhaps half a dozen sopranos; but the best performance was in 1987 by Wendy Hoffman, whom you will hear on the wave files below:
1. The Virgin. This song is purely in F Minor,
or, to be more precise, in the Aeolian mode. The cellist plucks a slow, regular,
implacable bass line, the meaning of which becomes clear at the end of the
song (which you can't hear here.) Click here to hear
the beginning of the song (minus the piano-and-cello introduction:)
2. The Womb. This song is extremely rubato, and
composed in the mode of alternating minor thirds and minor seconds--- what
Messiaen called one of the "modes of limited tramspositions." Click
here to hear the beginning of the song:
3. The Virgin Knight. The biggest piece of the
three, this begins as an aggressive, dissonant polonaise; after a few minutes
it mellows down to a dreamlike middle section in which the piano and cello
treat the themes from the first two movements fugally; then, just when it
gets really mellow, well, THIS is what happens: