scored for: 3 voices (preferably soprano, tenor, baritone) and piano
duration: 5 minutes
text: Leonora Speyer
Mirror Visions Ensemble (commission and world premiere)
Vira Slywotzky, soprano / Scott Murphee, tenor / Jesse Blumberg, baritone / Peggy Kampmeier, piano
December 20, 2016 / The Sheen Center, New York, NY
About the work:
Squall was commissioned to commemorate the 25th anniversery of the remarkable vocal group Mirror Visions Ensemble. Known for their commitment to wide-ranging explorations of the intersection between text and muic, and a chamber ensemble approach to art song, it was important that my piece for them celebrate both of these unique qualities. Squall employs all three voices intoning the text simultaneously in densely sequenced imitations and narrow harmonies that twist in and out of unision to reveal the text through sound first, and words second. Speyer's text served as a guidebook for creating a sonic journey from distant thunder to downpour, and the resulting calm.
The squall sweeps gray-winged across the obliterated hills,
And the startled lake seems to run before it;
From the wood comes a clamor of leaves,
Tugging at the twigs,
Pouring from the branches,
And suddenly the birds are still.
Thunder crumples the sky,
Lightning tears at it.
And now the rain!
The wind, reveling in the confusion of great pines!
And a silver sifting of light,
A sense of summer anger passing,
Of summer gentleness creeping nearer-