Keats Songs (text: John Keats) song cycle for medium-high voice and piano; 14' (2000)
1. A Valentine 2. To Sleep 3. Daisy’s Song 4. A Vision 5. One Day
selections performed by Melanie Kuolt, mezzo-soprano and Scott Gendel, piano:
composer’s note: “Keats Songs” was one of my first forays into the world of the song cycle. Since then, the art of the song cycle has become one of my very favorite things in all of music, and a lifelong obsession. And while I would certainly write “Keats Songs” very differently if I wrote it now, there’s something delightful about my own youthful excitement in these songs. “A Valentine” was where I started experimenting with polytonality and the dramatic sounds that can result. “To Sleep” is a song I’m very proud of, one of the first times I let go of trying to prove things to my teachers, and just let melody and atmosphere reign, while also tying in some of those polytonal sounds from the first song. “Daisy’s Song” is bouncy and fun, but with a little unsettling undertone. “A Vision” is where I merged my love of Argentinian tango music with art song, creating a song that’s about legato line in a very sensual way. “One Day” is something like a first try at operatic style; it’s a little awkwardly written, but contains some moments of real theatricality that still strike me as surprisingly effective. In all these songs, there’s a persistent harmonic idea (A major and F major at the same time) that creates a kind of unstable unity among the songs… but even within that harmonic world, melody and lyricism always come to the forefront, letting the singer deliver the text in an honest way.