Chansons Innocentes (1988)
IU New Music Ensemble; David Dzubay, conductor
Available on David Dzubay: Chansons Innocentes (IUSM 13). (and online retailers)
DURATION: 11 minutes
Commissioned by Harvey Sollberger and the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, and premiered by the IU New Music Ensemble under the direction of the composer in the spring of 1989.
This work was inspired by the three E. E. Cummings poems of the same name. Although in one movement, the piece is divided into three primary sections, following the poems. The initial section uses the first poem's general atmosphere of springtime playfulness, "when the world is mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful". The capricious textures involving constant interchange around the ensemble are colorful representations of children at play. The second poem is set more programmatically in that the music follows the order of events in the poem, variously depicting tip-toeing "ghostthings", "tingling goblins", "little itchy mousies", and even an old lady with a wart. Also, the players have to verbalize certain lines from the poem. This section begins slowly, and in gradual increments, works its way up to a frantically quick tempo. The strings have a jittery, nervous melody through much of this, reflecting the haunting nature of the poem. As with the first poem, the last poem's mood is set to music in the final section, a serene codetta. This resembles a slowly rotating mobile, with the oscillation of the strings, and repeated gestures of the others combining in a calm, floating state. (David Dzubay)