Après Wagner, Après Poe - on texts of Stéphane Mallarmé (1987-) [open]
French soprano, flute (doubling piccolo), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), guitar, violin, and cello
Publisher: Soundlib Press
A musical presentation of Mallarme's interests in and fondness for two of his heros.
apr|s Wagner, apr|s Poe - by Frank McCarty, on texts of St|phane Mallarme
Notes by the Composer
This occasion marks the premiere of La Sc|ne, the first section of a large multi-movement, multi-dimensional work, written for - and about - Mallarm|. This also marks the end of a year-long period of rather intense work; it is the fourth of my compositions to be premiered in 1987. I am deeply indebted to the North Carolina Arts Council for its support and encouragement during this time.
Unlike most composers, I do not carry a style or technique from piece to piece. Rather, I approach a task from within its own idiomatic context - its own premise. Each of those compositions could have been written by a different composer, in a different time and place. Yet they were produced by one composer, intentionally wearing different costumes.
Mallarm|, Anna Wilson's musical ensemble, is best known for performances of contemporary musical literature of the French school and of works by living composers. I was enlisted to make a signature composition - a work which would display their talents and, further, be based on the writings of St|phane Mallarm|. The composing of this namesake piece was thus guided by my enthusiasm for these expressive resources.
It might seem strange that I characterize this as a literary/theatrical composition even though it exists primarily in the realm of sound. Such a premise might seem further confounded by settings of the poet's language, rather than English translations. I am, after all, an American composer and you are certainly an American audience. However, this piece is not about us; it's about Mallarm|.
I have provided translations which appear following these notes and may, if desired, be read. Though they may express the semantic information of this composition, they do not represent its art.
These text-gleanings come from Mallarm|'s poems, prose-poems, essays, toasts and letters, and were chosen to represent two aspects of the poet's style. The first, amd most idiomatic category, acknowledges a writer for whom the phenomenon of sound is itself expressive. Obviously, such does not translate; please listen to the music of his language. The second, and more existential choices, depict an artist for whom the nature of human emotion and experience transcends mere concrete representation or any single, definitive meaning; please listen with your heart as well.
St|phane Mallarm|, the writer, found influences in the works of Edgar Poe, the mystique surrounding Richard Wagner, and, in more general terms, in theatre, music and dance. These factors are illuminated herein and set in a theatrical context which was implied - maybe even suggested - by the author himself. For me, the composer, this music began in the realm of Claude Debussy whom I thank, along with Ives and Joyce, for their influences upon my contributions to this piece.