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Music for Voice

Music for Voice and Guitar

Santa Susana School Song
Cuando se abre en la mañana
Villançicos, Book I
Villançicos Book II



Music for Voice and Piano

Invocation
On the Beach At Night
Canciones Españoles Teatrales
Songs from ‘Mariana Pineda'
Romance de la Guardia Civil Española
Tres Canciones Sobre Lorca

Villançicos Book II

Nocturnes


Music for Voice, Piano and Violin

On the Beach At Night



Music for Soprano, Clarinet, and Piano

Cantar de los Cantares



Music for Voice and Two Harps

Dos Canciones Insólitas



Music for Voice and Two Pianos

Danza de las Dos Hermanas



Music for Voice, Harp, Flute and Viola

Cinco Canciones Insólitas
Tres Canciones Sobre Lorca
Two Sephardic Songs (alto or soprano), flute, harp and viola)



Music for Voice and Guitar Ensemble

Guitar Quartet No. 6 (aka ‘La Corrida’) (for mezzo-soprano and guitar quartet)
Guitar Quartet No. 7 (aka ‘The Civil Guard’) (for low voice and guitar quartet)
Guitar Quartet No. 8 (aka ‘Cuatro Canciones Melancólicos’) (for soprano and four guitars)



Music for Voice, Flute, String Quartet and Piano

Río de llantos/River of Laments (soprano or mezzo-soprano)

Music for Voice and Chamber Orchestra

Fantasía Federico García Lorca
Motet (On A Theme of Henry Purcell)




Music for Voice and Strings

Nocturnes

 

Music for Voice and Orchestra

Cantar de los Cantares
Invocation
Bernarda Alba’s Lament
Ballet of Death and the Moon
Canción de Yerma
Tres Canciones Sobre Lorca




Music for Voice and Wind Ensemble

On the Beach At Night







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

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Cantar de los Cantares (soprano, clarinet, and piano) 2007

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC--Part I, pp. 1-3
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC--As at First, pp. 12-13

C
antar de los Cantares (soprano and orchestra)

Requested by and dedicated to Jessica Rivera who, with clarinetist Eleanor Weingartner and pianist L. Mark Carver, gave its premiere at the First Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 13, 2007.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Score and clarinet part: $24.00

First recording by Jessica Rivera, with Eleanore Weingartner, clarinet, and L. Mark Carver, piano, “Jessica Rivera Sings Romantic Music,” Urtext Digital Classics, JBCC 158, released October, 2008, Mexico City.

Duration: 24’

Program notes and performance history: Cantar de los Cantares is the second song cycle composed by Ian Krouse for the American soprano Jessica Rivera.  The text was adapted from a Spanish translation of the ‘Song of Songs’ by Mr. Krouse and Ms. Rivera.  Though the emphasis here is (fittingly) mainly from the female perspective, the singer, at times, also sings the role of the male as well, retaining something of the compelling dialogue format of the original Hebrew poem.  The clarinet, naturally, plays off the soprano in the ‘role’ of the male lover, imparting an almost quasi-operatic mood throughout.  The work is set in two parts, with a brief pause in between.  As much ‘solo cantata’ as song cycle, the work is also structured as a sonata, with an interesting twist – the first theme is the ‘feminine’ and the second is the ‘masculine,’ a reversal of the stereotypical Romantic era concept of the form!

Reviews:

On this stunning disc, three virtuoso artists -- each with a Pittsburgh connection -- join forces in a fascinating collection for the unusual combination of soprano, clarinet and piano, alternating 19th-century German Lieder with 20th-century Spanish canciones. Soprano Jessica Rivera... is most impressive in extended, very beautiful Spanish adaptations of "The Song of Songs" by Maryland born Ian Krouse.

Robert Croan, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE

“The Schubert is merely a strong opening to a strong album.  Its final note has hardly faded when the performers leap into the two sections of Cantar de los Cantares (a setting of a Spanish translation of the “Song of Songs”) by the American composer Ian Krouse…He wrote this 24-minute piece expressly for this recording and (the liner notes tell us) he advises “the clarinetist to think of herself as a singer in a duet with the soprano,” manifesting the chamber music ideal at the heart of his piece.  It’s somewhat minimal and harmonically static, but great arcs of melody pull their way out of the hazy, heavily pedaled chordal morass.  Gamelan music is clearly not unknown to Krouse; a few passages are exercises in Javanese slendro pentatonicism, and that’s always a way into my heart (and I hope into yours.)  Krouse’s piece might try the listener’s patience in a less beautiful performance, but I listened to this one repeatedly with rapt attention.

James M. Keller, CHAMBER MUSIC, Vol. 26, No. 3, May/June 2009

“…the Krouse stands out as a magnificent contribution to the repertoire; while its neo-romanticism has immediacy and appeal, it also has profundity and depth of expression that rivals and probably surpasses the more renowned pieces on the program.”

Hanudel, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June

“Ian Krouse’s Cantar de los Cantares is a multi-layered work that constantly engages the ear and challenges the players.  Part I features some jazzy wind, rollicking-kisses and the clarinet as dove.  The closing introspective moment is memorable.  Flashes of passion form much of Part II as the clarinet easily slinks about the garden, the voice finds some compelling darkness and the piano takes us gently away.  If only love was always this fulfilling and uncomplicated.”

S. James Wegg, JWR ARTICLES, July, 2009

Text and translation

On the Beach At Night (for baritone, violin, and wind ensemble) 2006
On the Beach At Night
(for baritone and piano with optional violin)  

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC--PIANO VOCAL SCORE
CLIP 1
CLIP 2

CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO SAMPLE OF WORK

Instrumentation: 3 Fl. (3rd dbl. Picc. and Alto Fl.)/2 Ob./E. H./2 Clar. in B-flat (1st dbl. Clar. in A)/Bass Clar. in B-flat/Contra Alto Clar. in E-flat/Alto Sax./2 Bsn./Contrabsn ./4 Hns. (2 additional horns may be added)/3 Tr. (1st dbl. Tr. in D, 3rd dbl. Flugelhorn)/2 Tenor Tbn./Bass Tbn./Euph./2 Tubas/Timp./Perc. 1: (Crot., Mar., Glock., Sm. Sus. Cym., Lrg. Sus. Cym., Water Gong, Tam-tam)/Perc. 2: (Tam-tam, Vib., Crot., Bass Dr., Ten. Dr.)/Perc. 3: (Bass Dr., Lrg. Sus. Cym., Vib., Water Gong, Med. Sus. Cym., 3 Gongs tuned B, G#, D#, Sm. Sus. Cym., Med. Sus. Cym., Piatti, Tam-tam)/Perc. 4: (Bass Dr., Lrg. Tam-tam, Lrg. and Sm. Sus. Cym., Glock.)/Perc. 5: (Med. Taiko Dr. – Opt.)/Pno./Bar. Voice/Vln./2 Dbl. Basses

Requested and premiered by Rik Hansen for the St. Cloud State University Wind Ensemble, Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, March 5, 2007, San Luis Obispo, ABA Conference, March 7, 2007, and at UCLA, Los Angeles, March 9, 2007.

Published by Ian Krouse Music. 

            Conductor’s score:                      $35.00
            Study score:                                $15.00
            Score and parts rental:               $500.00
xxxx... Piano vocal score: .....................$15.00
xxxxx..Piano vocal score with
xxxxx .violin solo:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx $17.50

Duration: 17’

Program notes and performance history:

On the Beach at Night, a setting of Walt Whitman’s poem from ‘Sea Drift,’ was written for the St. Cloud State University Wind Ensemble and is dedicated to its director, Rik Hansen, who with guest conductor Ray Cramer and baritone Hugh Givens, gave its premiere performances in Minnesota and California in the winter and spring of 2007, including performances at the American Bandmasters Association National Conference in San Luis Obispo, and UCLA, in Los Angeles.  In spring, 2008 I conducted and recorded the work with the UCLA Wind Ensemble with faculty baritone Michael Dean as the soloist. Mr. Givens has also given the piece its chamber premiere, with piano accompaniment, in Manila in 2008.  On the Beach At Night is scored for baritone soloist, obligato violin, and wind ensemble, and is the most recent in a series of works to explore American themes and written expressly for university wind ensembles.  The text of this piece could not be timelier, and sounds as if it were written yesterday.  Though it begins with ominous and foreboding tones, it ends in redemption and hope.  I hope, in my own small way, that this work will provide a bit of hope and optimism for those in need of such sentiments.

Text

Invocation (soprano and piano) 2006

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC--NO. 1--WEARY WITH TOIL
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC--NO. 2--SONETAS DE AMOR
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC--NO. 3--MATA ARU YORU NI
CLICK HERE FOR PEDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC-- NO. 4--CHO-HON

Invocation (soprano and orchestra)

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE OF MUSIC

Instrumentation:  2 fl./2 ob./E.H./2 Cl. in A/Bass Cl. in B-flat/Contra alt. cl. in E-flat/2 bsn./Contra bsn./4 Hn./2 Tr./Flugelhorn/2 Trb./Bass trb./Timp./Perc 1: Lrg. Tam-tam, Lrg. Sus. Cym., Med. Sus. Cym./2: Vib., Glock., Bass dr./3: Bass Dr., Vib., Crot., Sm. Sus. Cym., Med. Sus. Cym., Lrg. Sus. Cym./Harp/Pno./Cel./Strings (8,8,6,6,4 minimum)

Written for and dedicated to Jessica Rivera and Maryanne Kim.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.            

Piano-vocal score:                    $24.00
Conductor’s score:                   $60.00
Score and parts rental:           $500.00 (Academic pricing available)

Duration: 27’

Program notes notes and performance history:

Invocation, a proto-narrative cycle of four songs for soprano and piano in four languages, was born of an inchoate desire to explore  the intangibility of love.  The first song, a setting of Shakespeare’s sonnet Weary With Toil is a nocturnal, its indirect allusions to the style of Britten and Dowland quite conscious.  Musing upon these two composers took me easily to the lute and the guitar, and so the cycle begins with the first of dozens of guitar-like gestures.  The ‘author’ finds himself/herself (gender is ambiguous) in a state of ennui and restlessness, apparently unable to find solace by day or by night.  He/she longs for an absent lover, if such a person actually exists, or is even aware of the longings expressed by the writer.  The setting is deliberately nervous and disquieting.

The second song, a setting of Pablo Neruda’s Sonetas de Amor, XXII, presents the flaming up and, perhaps, consummation of sensual love – imagined or otherwise.  Though we can assume that the subject of this poem was Neruda’s wife, and that it deals with a tangible relationship, I find the phrases that refer to or infer a mistiming or lack of recognition to be particularly revealing. The writer speaks of ‘loving without seeing’ (loving without being able to acknowledge?), of ‘loving without remembering you’ (loving deprived of the history of a normal conjugal relationship?).  I admire the references to the intangible expressed mainly in the second verse, and the realization that perhaps it was all as ephemeral as the strumming of a guitar in the shadows.  Naturally, the ‘guitar’ motives make a noticeable appearance at this point.  Ultimately though, the last few lines, with images of ‘wildfire’ (passion burning out of control) and ‘flame’ encapsulate the essential purpose and place of this poem in the cycle.

The third song, a setting in Japanese of Tachihara Michizo’s Mata Aru Yoru Ni, and the second nocturnal, gets to the heart of things with its less than veiled allusions to an affair.  Again, the meaning is ambiguous; it’s like trying to hold smoke.  After all, it may simply be a momentary fancy.  The piano arpeggios envelop the (perhaps imaginary) lovers like the mist described in the poem.

The last song, the first to be written, is Cho-hon, a celebrated poem by the renowned Korean poet Kim So Wol.  It is the ‘heart’ of the cycle and explores a passion, at life’s end, that has never been allowed a proper, healthy expression, and may only do so within the solitude of the writer’s heart, at the end of earthly things.  It is at once profoundly sad, and yet consolatory, and is set at a time when day gives way to night = death/oblivion.  Here the ‘guitar’ motives find an ultimate expression and are manifested in numerous ways, in almost every bar.

Each song begins with a permutation of the pitches ‘e-f-g,’ where ‘e’ alone is unchanged.  In the first it is the Phrygian: ‘e-f-g’; in the second: ‘e-f-g# (hinting at the Flamenco Phrygian); in the third it is: ‘e-f-double sharp – g#); and in the final song, the simple minor expression: ‘e-f#-g.’ These e-centric modes, of course, represent the guitar.

In all but the last, there is an expressive interplay between atonality and modal diatonicism, representing the dichotomy between the tangible = atonal, and the intangible = tonal, with a deepening commitment to tonality as the songs unfold.  The first song is the most atonal.  The second somewhat less so, the third still less, and the last song is all but completely tonal until the very last bars, where it too gives way to the ‘grounding’ of atonality and the sense that even such a sincere outpouring of emotion is ultimately ephemeral and elusive.  I am aware of the irony that atonality (the quintessential language of the 20th century) represents grounding, reality, and the tangible, whereas, tonality is made to signify the unreachable, the intangible, and the fantastical, thus turning on its head the traditional use of such languages (when they are juxtaposed)
for an opposite effect.

Text and translation

 

Motet (On A Theme of Henry Purcell) (for high voice, chorus and fifteen instruments) 1997

        Written for Vania Lee and Jason Jerome on the occasion of their wedding.

Instrumentation: Fl./Ob./Cl./Bsn./6 Vlns./2 Vlas./2 Vc./Bass

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Conductor’s Score:      $35.00

          Score and parts rental:  $275.00

 Duration: 12’

Program notes and performance history:

The Motet (On A Theme of Henry Purcell) was written as a wedding gift for Vania Lee and Jason Jerome, who, at the time, were my students at UCLA.  It was to have been performed by tenor Timothy Mussard, and small ensemble of friends.  For reasons that I can no longer recall the piece was never performed, and is still awaiting its premiere.

Text

Cincos Canciones Insólitas (mezzo-soprano, flute, viola, and harp) 1997 

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--SAMPLE I
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--SAMPLE II
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--SAMPLE III
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--SAMPLE IV
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--SAMPLE V

Requested by and dedicated to the Debussy Trio.

First recording by the Debussy Trio with Suzann Guzman, mezzo-soprano, “Three Friends,” RCM 12003, Los Angeles, 2000.

Published by Fatrock Ink Music Publishers

Duration: 16’

Program notes and performance history: Cinco Canciones Insólitas is an expanded version of a pair of Spanish songs originally entitled Dos Canciones Insólitas, which were scored originally for two harps and mezzo-soprano.  Both are spin-offs from my opera Lorca, Child of the Moon. My longstanding association with the Los Angeles based Debussy Trio led to a transcription of the two original songs (numbers 2 and 3 in this version) for flute, harp and viola.  The Debussy Trio performed them in this form many times, often with mezzo Suzanna Guzman.  Numbers 1 and 4, like their predecessors, were arrangements of songs that I wrote for theatrical productions.  Only the last song was newly composed.  The melodies for the first and third songs are loosely based on two composed (collected?) by Federico García Lorca.

In Cinco Canciones Insólitas (Five Peculiar Songs) – subtitled ‘Five Color Texture Studies’ – I have tried to create chamber music with voice, not accompanied songs.  Perhaps the most striking example of this approach is the middle song, Zorongo, where the vocal part, though expressive, serves as a cantus firmus around which the instruments weave an increasingly more involved tapestry.  The voice may be thought of as a color extension of the instrumental trio, and not a soloist under the spotlight in the traditional sense.

Though evoking folk sources, the vocal melodies of the second, fourth and fifth songs are wholly original.  The melodies for the first and third songs are freely based on those Lorca used in his plays, though the transformations are so extreme that the melodies are all but original.

1. Canción de los romeros (Song of the Pilgrims) is a new version of a song originally composed for the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts’ 1994 production of Lorca’s play Yerma.  Although the deceptively simple melody – freely adapted from Lorca’s original – is in 2/4 time, the accompaniment, based on the flamenco ‘soleares’ with its characteristic alternating 3/4 and 2/4, is considerably more complex, and ends up using all twelve tones.

2. Canción de la criada (The Song of the Housemaid) is an arrangement of a trio for three women from my opera Lorca, Child of the Moon.  The text comes from Lorca’s tragedy Boda de Sangre (Blood Wedding).  The melody (with a simpler accompaniment) was originally written for the BFA’s 1984 production of the play.  In the play it serves as a portent of inevitable tragedy.

3. Zorongo is a new adaptation of the Prelude to my opera Lorca, Child of the Moon.  The melody is freely derived from a folk source.  The highly surrealistic text mixes traditional verses with those added by Lorca.

4. A la vera del agua (At the edge of the water) was composed for the BFA’s 1988 production of Lorca’s play Mariana Pineda.   In the play it is one of the final soliloquies uttered by the soon to be executed heroine.  The text portrays one utterly devoid of hope.

5. Canción de cuna (Lullaby) is the only piece composed especially for this set, and was not written for use in the theater.  Its text is a traditional Andalusian lullaby of a very ironic sort – the mother is warning her lover not to enter the house that night as the father of the sleeping child is still at home!  The original must have intrigued Lorca greatly for it is one of the texts he mentioned in his celebrated talk on the subject of Andalusian lullabies.

Reviews:

“The ‘Cinco Canciones Insólitas’ (Five Peculiar Songs) is an exercise in using the voice not as a soloist under the  spotlight but rather as an equal partner with the three instrumentalists.  Krouse’s gift for striking and memorable melody is displayed in the second song, ‘Giraba la rueda’ (Song of the Housemaid).  Suffused with gentle regret, and with sustained piquant scoring for harp and flute, the setting distils a quite extraordinary atmosphere of ruminative sadness.  Contrast is supplied with the ensuing flamenco-flavored ‘Zorongo,’ which material stems from Lorca’s own melodies.  All five songs are crafted with the finest polish and a genuine flair for vocal writing.”

Lawrence A. Johnson, GRAMOPHONE, Awards Issue 2001

“Ian Krouse’s “Cinco Canciones Insólitas” (Five Peculiar Songs) received its world premiere….Krouse has found haunting lyric and dramatic melodies to texts by Federico García Lorca, ranging from hopelessness over unrequited love to a lullaby that warns a lover because the woman’s husband is in the house…sensitive and detailed word setting.”

Chris Pasles, LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 23, 1999

“Ian Krouse’s [Cinco] “Canciones Insólitas” (two sultry Spanish songs) with soprano Susan Alexander…rounded out this fascinating concert.”

Timothy Mangan, LOS ANGELES TIMES – ORANGE COUNTY, November 12, 1994

“Ian Krouse’s [Cinco] “Canciones Insólitas”  proved the most distinctive of the new music, greatly aided by the suitably smoldering work of mezzo Suzanna Guzman.  Krouse has long been inspired by the poetry of Lorca, and these cleanly structured, pseudo-Andalusian gems have the benefit of unforced simplicity.”

John Henken, LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 23, 1993

“In Ian Krouse’s [Cinco] “Canciones Insólitas” – a haunting pair of Spanish songs, one lonely and mournful, the other sporting a very busy yet effective backing toccata – the Trio was joined by mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman…”

Richard S. Ginell, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, September/October, 1993

“songs based on Lorca received vibrant, sinuous, utterly idiomatic performances by Suzanna Guzman…”

Gene Warech, DRAMA-LOGUE, July 15-21, 1993

Texts and translation

Cuando se abre en la mañana (soprano and guitar) 1990   

 

Written for and dedicated to Alba Quezada, who gave the premiere performance on Nov. 10, 1990 with guitarist Scott Tennant at the Ethical Society Concert Hall, Saint Louis, Missouri.

First recording by soprano Sun Young Kim and guitarist Scott Tennant, Koch 3-7482-2 HI, released Feb. 22, 2000.

Published by Peer Music Classical     

Duration: 4’

Program notes and performance history: Cuando se abre en la mañana is a concert version of a piece taken from an incidental score for the play Doña Rosita la Soltera by Federico García Lorca.  Its simplicity and folkloric qualities are typical of many of the works I wrote in the eighties for the Los Angeles based Bilngual Foundation for the Arts’ productions of plays by Lorca.  It is through-composed with a brief melismatic refrain, and, despite its gentility, one can hear traces of Flamenco music, both
in its melismatic vocal style
                                  

Reviews:

“Krouse’s “Cuando se abre en la mañana,” a brief setting of a García Lorca poem…uses a simpler tonal language but rises impressively to an agitated climax.  Alba Quezada sang…with focused lyricism and playfulness with guitarist Terry Graves supporting eloquently.”

Timothy Mangan, LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 17, 1991

Text and translation

Tres Canciones Sobre Lorca (for medium female voice and piano) 1986
Tres Canciones Sobre Lorca (for medium female voice and orchestra) 1986
Tres Canciones Sobre Lorca (for medium female voice and flute, harp and viola) 2000

 

Instrumentation for orchestral version: 2 Fl. (dbl. Picc)/ 2 Ob. (2. dbl.E.H.)/ 2 Clar. in B-flat/ 2 Bsn./ 2 Hrns./ 2 Tr. In C/ 2 Trb./Perc: Timp., S.D., B.D., Glock.,Tr., Whip, Tamb., Cast., Sus.Cym./Pno./Strings

Written for and dedicated to Melody Rossi Metcalf, who gave the premiere performances of both the chamber and orchestral versions of the work, then known as ‘Tres Canciones Españolas Antiquas,’ with pianist Vicky Ray, Schoenberg Institute, and Ray Egan conducting the USC Symphony April 28, 1987 in Bovard Auditorium, both at the University of Southern California.

First recording by the Debussy Trio with Suzann Guzman, mezzo-soprano, “Three Friends,” RCM 12003, Los Angeles, 2000.

Published by Peer Music Classical . Version for flute, harp and viola pubished by Fatrock Ink Music Publishers

Program notes and performance history:  The Three Songs After Lorca are all concert arrangements of pieces originally written for the bilingual productions of plays by Federico García Lorca, and were commissioned by the Los Angeles based Bilingual Foundation of the Arts.  The first song was originally performed as a duet for a seven-year-old girl and a young woman in their 1986 production of Lorca’s La Zapatera Prodigiosa.  The second song was written for a scene from the first draft of my
opera Lorca, Hijo de la Luna (Lorca, Child of the Moon), a scene that was subsequently cut from the finished version.  Like the first song, it is playful and wistful at the same time.  It was also used in the production of La Zapatera Prodigiosa.
They were premiered by dedicatee, mezzo-soprano Melody Rossi-Metcalf, and pianist Vicky Ray.  Later, at the request of Ms. Rossi-Metcalf, I made an orchestral version of the three songs, which she premiered at USC’s Bovard Auditorium with the USC Symphony
conducted by Ray Egan.  The arrangement for the Debussy Trio, which was made for the CD release “Two Friends,” is the third version of these little pieces. This set has been championed by mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman, who sang them in her Carnegie Hall debut in 1989.  In recent years she has frequently performed them with the Debussy Trio.

Reviews:

The ‘Tres Canciones sobre Lorca’ were originally written for a series of bilingual productions of Lorca’s plays in Los Angeles.  ‘Mariposa del aire’ is a vibrant setting, inhabiting a style somewhere between Canteloube and de Falla’s “Seven Popular Spanish Songs.”  If the set suffers from a lack of contrast between the three songs, all are undeniably attractive and penned with assurance.”

Lawrence A. Johnson, GRAMOPHONE, Awards Issue 2001

“Suzanna Guzman, who was presented at Weill Recital Hall…divided her program between excerpts from Ian Krouse’s “Child of the Moon,” a multi-media work based on the life and poetry of García Lorca…Mr. Krouse’s music drew confidently on the 20th century idiom of blending Spanish folk elements with dissonant harmonies.”

Will Crutchfield, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 4, 1989

Texts and translation

Tres Canciones Españoles Teatrales (for mezzo-soprano and piano) 1989

 

Commissioned by the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts for use in Los Angeles productions of Mariana Pineda, Bodas de Sangre, and La Zapatera Prodigiosa by Federico García Lorca. The first performances of ‘En la corrida mas grande’ were given by Roxana Cordova (1988); the first performances of ‘Giraba la rueda’ were given by Linda Dangcil (1982); and the first performances of ‘Los reyes de la baraja’ were given by the cast of the BFA (1986).

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Score: $15.00

Performance notes and performance history: In the eighties and early nineties I composed dozens of songs and ensemble pieces for use in the bilingual (Spanish/English) productions of Lorca plays by the Los Angeles based Bilingual Foundation of the Arts.  Most of these pieces were written in a quasi-folkloric style and designed to be sung live to pre-recorded piano or guitar accompaniments.  ‘En la corrida mas grande’ also exists in an arrangement for singer and guitar quartet (Guitar Quartet No. 6).  It is full of high spirits
and youthful intensity, appropriate to the character of the excitable and impressionable young woman who sings it in the play. ‘Giraba la rueda,’ the orginal version of which was written in an hour or so just in time for a rehearsal of Blood Wedding(!), is at once sad, prophetic and reflective.  It exists in several other versions, including a place in the third act of my opera Lorca, Child of the Moon‘Los reyes de la baraja,’ is actually a modest arrangement of a tune made famous (possibly composed) by Lorca himself.  My arrangement
is based on Lorca’s but descends into silliness at the end, in keeping with the farcical tone of Lorca’s play ‘La Zapatera Prodigiosa.’  All of the songs may be sung in Spanish or in English.

Text and translation

 

Songs from 'Mariana Pineda' (voice and piano) (1988) [18']

Commissioned by the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts for use in its 1998 production of Lorca’s ‘Dona Rosita la Soltera.’  First performed by actresses Roxana Cordova and Alison England and the cast of the BFA.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

            Score:  $24.00

Duration: 18’

Program notes and performance history: During the eighties and early nineties I was commissioned by the Los Angeles based Bilingual Foundation of the Arts to write incidental music, songs, and dances to be used in theatrical productions of plays by García Lorca.  The ‘Songs from ‘Mariana Pineda’ is a collection of the ‘arias’ that were sung in the live production over pre-recorded accompaniments using guitars and piano.  (I also made a version of this set for soprano and guitar quartet entitled ‘Cuatro Canciones Melancólicos.’

Reviews:

“Ian Krouse’s recorded – and lovely – guitar and piano score.”

LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 21, 1988

“Ian Krouse’s brooding score enhances the nefarious plot as actors break into stark, viscous arias and wails, a natural reaction to the charged emotion playing onstage."

Lawrence Enscoe, DAILY NEWS, Octo
ber 7, 1988

Text and translation


Romance de la Guardia Civil Española (for low voice(s) and piano) (1984-87)

           

Commissioned by the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts and given its first performances in workshop productions held from 1984 – 87, by Suzana Guzman.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

      Score: $16.00

Duration: 11’

Program notes and performance history: The Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard is one of the very earliest pieces that I wrote for the opera Lorca, Child of the Moon.  The first part was sketched in 1984, and was included in a demo recording that was submitted to the National Endowment of the Arts.  The singer was Suzanna Guzman.  A year or so later I completed the piece, along with the draft for the entire opera, and in 1987, with funding from the NEA, the opera was given the second of several workshop productions by the Bilingual
Foundation for the Arts.  Again the singer was Suzanna Guzman, whose voice and acting had by then begun to influence my creative process.  Ms. Guzman has been the consummate interpreter of the piece for over twenty years, and included it in her successful Carnegie Hall debut in 1989. In 1993 I transcribed the work for four guitars (Guitar Quartet No. 7), a version that was premiered by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet with baritone Thomas Speckhard in 1999.  Though in the opera the piece is performed by mezzo and baritone soloists with chorus and dancers, the recital version, with piano or four guitars, may be done by either a solo
mezzo or baritone, or a combination of both.

Reviews:

Suzanna Guzman, who was presented at Weill Recital Hall…divided her program between excerpts from Ian Krouse’s “Child of the Moon,” a multi-media work based on the life and poetry of García Lorca…Mr. Krouse’s music drew confidently on the 20th century idiom of blending Spanish folk elements with dissonant harmonies.”

Will Crutchfield, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 4, 1989

Text and translation

 

Dos Canciones Insólitas (for mezzo soprano and two harps) (1987)
Published by Ian Krouse Music.
Score and parts: $18.00

Duration: 7’

ProProgram notes and performance history: 'Dos Canciones Insólitas,' on texts by Federico García Lorca were created for my final doctoral concert at the University of Southern California, April 18, 1987, at Bovard Auditorium.  The performers were mezzo-soprano Melody Rossi Metcalf, with harpists Marcia Dickstein and JoAnn Turovsky, with choreography by flamenco dancers Maria Bermudez and Juan Talavera.  The first of the .....two songs, ‘Giraba la rueda’ was arranged from a version used in the early draft of my opera Lorca, Child of the Moon.  The second, though sharing many similarities with the ‘Invocation to the Moon,’ also from the opera, is actually a completely independent piece based upon a different text.  Some years later, encouraged by harpist Marcia Dickstein, I arranged the two songs for the DebussyTrio, which performed the pieces regularly for a few years.  Then in 1997, I added three more songs and renamed the piece ‘Cinco Canciones Insólitas,’however, the orginal version for two harp holds up just fine and makes an impressive recital piece.

Text and translation

Fantasía Federico García Lorca (for soprano, mezzo-soprano, and chamber orchestra) (1985)

I.   Introdución – Adoración de la Luna  
II. Diferencias sobre ‘La Canción de los Vecinos’
III. Danza de las Dos Hermanas
IV. !Fiesta!

Commissioned and Premiered by the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra conducted by Robert Duerr, Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena, California, May 13, 1986.

Instrumentation: 2 Fl. (2nd dbl. Picc. and Alt. Fl.)/2 Ob./2 Cl. in B-flat (2nd dbl. B.Cl.)/2 Bsn./2 Hn./2 Tr. in B-flat/2 Tbn./Tba. (opt.)/2 Perc: Timp., B.D., Sus. Cym.,
Tam-tam, Glock., Tamb., Cast., Snare Dr., Xyl., Whip/Pno./2 Classical Gtrs./Sopr. soloist/Mezzo-soprano soloist/Strings


Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Conductor’s score:       $36.00
Parts rental:                  $500 (Academic discount available)

Duration: 20’

Program notes and performance history: 

The Fantasía: Federico García Lorca is a work for small orchestra, soprano, mezzo-soprano, and two guitars.  It was commissioned by the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra and premiered with Robert Dueer conductor at the Ambassador Auditorium on Tuesday, May 13, 1986.  It is based on music I was writing for theatrical productions of plays of Federico García Lorca for live productions – including an opera – produced by the Los Angeles based Bilingual
Foundation of the Arts during the late eighties and early nineties.  The music is folkloric and accessible, though by no means easy to perform.  Some of this music turned out to be proto-types for scenes of my first full-length grand opera: Lorca, Child of the Moon, which
was given its world premiere in a production of UCLA Opera in 2005.  The work was revised a few years after its premiere.  

The piece opens with a brisk, sweeping overture which gives way to a hypnotic, undulating piece based loosely upon Lorca’s own composition ‘Zorongo.’  The melody may be sung by a mezzo-soprano (as it is in the opera) or played by a solo cello.  The second movement is a set of variations (diferéncias) on Lorca’s habanera ‘Cancion de los Vecinos,’ (Song of the Neighbors), and, if one listens carefully, strains of ‘De los Alamos vengo madre,’ an ancient villançico featured by Lorca’s friend and countryman
Manuel de Falla in his Harpsichord Concerto. 
The third – and arguably most demanding – movement (Dance of Two Sisters) is a Flamenco inspired, somewhat violent tone poem depicting a scene from Lorca’s play La Casa de Bernarda Alba.  The music starkly portrays a deadly confrontation between two sisters both desperately in love with the same man.  This scene became a prototype for the entr’acte that comes between Acts II and III of the opera.  The concluding movement, ¡ Fiesta!, is based upon
another scene destined not to survive the final cut for the opera. A much simpler version was used for the BFA’s productions of Lorca’s Bodas de Sangre.  Though fun to watch (and hear) its quasi-Sevillanas style in a meter if 5/4 (!) has bedeviled many fine dancers.

Reviews:

“Krouse obviously has a good ear for a good Lorca tune, and he knows how to transform them into skillfully organized, driving movements loaded with Spanish color and disdainful of what passes for current fashion.  Watch this man.”

Richard S. Ginell, DAILY NEWS, May 15, 1986

“Fantasia: Federico García Lorca” draws on Spanish tunes used by Lorca and Falla, deftly orchestrated in an appealing popular vein.  Stravinsky and Copland can be heard in it, as can Falla, Torroba and Rodrigo…an attractive orchestral vehicle, and the audience in Ambassador Auditorium clearly enjoyed it…a zesty, evocative performance.  

John Henken, LOS ANGELES TIMES, MAY 15, 1986  

 
Ballet of Death and the Moon (for mezzo-soprano and orchestra) 1985

 

Premiered by mezzo-soprano Jacalyn Wehnhoff with the USC New Music Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ian Krouse, Bovard Auditorium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, September 23, 1985.

Instrumentation: 2 Fl./Ob./E.H./2 Cl. in B-flat/B.Cl./2 Bsn./Contra-bsn./2 Hn./2 Tr. in C/3 Tbn./Tba./Timp., Sm. Sus. Cym., B.D., /Hp./Pno./Mezzo-soprano soloist/ Strings

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Piano vocal score:         $12.00
Conductor’s score:       $35.00
Parts rental:                  $500 (Academic discount available)

Duration: 5’

Program notes and performance history: 

The Ballet of Death and the Moon is a concert aria in English for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, and was originally designed as a scene in the opera that came to be known as Lorca, Child of the Moon.  The text is an adaptation of the Moon’s monologue from the third act of Lorca’s play Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding).  Lorca uses the ‘blood lust’ of the frigid moon as the perfect metaphor for the human tragedy.  The last line of the poem is one of the most famous in all of Lorca.

Text

Bernarda Alba’s Lament (mezzo-soprano) 1984-87 (orchestrated in 1992)

Written for the original draft of the opera Lorca, Child of the Moon, the version for orchestra and chorus was premiered on May 4, 1992 by mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman, with Jonathan Stockhammer conducting members of the USC, UCLA and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Piano vocal score:         $12.00
Conductor’s score:       $35.00  

Instrumentation: 2 Fl./Ob./E.H./Cl. in A/B.Cl./2 Bsn./2 Hn./2 Tr in C/2 Tbn./Timp./3 Perc./Hp./Pno./SATB Chorus/Mezzo-soprano soloist/Strings

Duration: 6’

Performance notes and performance history:

Though this scene, taken from the end of Lorca’s ‘La casa de Bernarda Alba,’ created a powerful impression in the 1991 Bilingual Foundation of the Arts Workshop Production of the opera Lorca, Child of the Moon it did not survive the final ‘cut.’  Instead I reworked and expanded the music to create the final scene of the opera, which is based upon portions of the last act of Lorca’s Blood Wedding.  It is interesting to compare the two versions, which bear many musical similarities, as each in its
turn well-served two of Lorca’s quintessential ‘heroines’: Bernarda Alba and La Madre.  The piece may be performed as a stand alone, or more likely alongside similar pieces, such as ‘Ballet of Death and the Moon,’ or ‘Ballad of the Spanish Civil Guard,’ all of which may be performed in Spanish or in English with orchestral or piano accompaniment.

Text

Dance of Two Sisters (vocalise for soprano, mezzo-soprano and two pianos) (1984-87)

Writtten for the original draft of the opera Lorca, Child of the Moon, the version for two pianos was premiered on April 18, 1987 on the occasion of my final doctoral recital at the University of Southern California.  The singers were soprano Alison England and mezzo-soprano Melody Rossi Metcalf, the pianists were Sun Young Kim and Ae Sun Yu, aided by Neal Desby and Laura Bell. Two flamenco dancers, Maria Bermudez (Adela) and Annette Cardona (Martirio) were choreographed by Mari
Sandoval, and directed by Margarita Galban.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Score: $12.00

Duration: 6’

Program notes and performance history: The ‘Danza de las dos hermanas’ (Dance of Two Sisters) was written for an early draft of the opera Lorca, Child of the Moon, and is inspired by a scene from Lorca’s play La Casa de Bernarda Alba in which the elder of two sisters, Martirio, encounters her discheveled younger sister Adela following a late night rendezvous with a young man with whom both sisters are desperately in love.

In the play the younger sister later commits suicide, but in the ‘danza’ she dies symbolically on the body of her unmoved sister.  It makes a very strong impression as a recital piece, especially with dancers.  In 1985 the piece was orchestrated for chamber orchestra with two guitars and included in the Fantasía Federico García Lorca.  In 2004, the piece was expanded and recorchestrated as the ‘entr’acte’ for the final version of Lorca, Child of the Moon, though it could not be used in the 2005 UCLA Opera production.

‘Canción de Yerma’ (A symphonic song cycle in six movements for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra) [30’] 1981 – 1986 (Orchestrated 1991, revised in 2003)

 

The first, second and third movements were premiered by soprano Alison England, the composer conducting the USC ‘New Music for Orchestra’ ensemble at Bovard Auditorium, March 20, 1983, and April 9, 1984.  The fourth and fifth movements, which double as scenes from the opera, Lorca, Child of the Moon, were premiered by soprano Kyung Chy, baritone Evan Hughes, and UCLA Opera, conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer.

Instrumentation: 4 Fl. (dbl.Picc.; 3., 4. dbl Alt. Fl.; 4. dbl. Bass Fl.; all four dbl. Tuned Crystal Goblets – optional)/3 Ob. (3. dbl. Heckelphone)/E. H. (Dbl. Ob.)/4 Cl. in B – flat/A (2. dbl. Cl. in E – flat and Bass Cl.; 3. dbl. Contra Alto Bass Cl. in E – flat)/3 Bsns. (3. dbl. Contrabsn.)/Contrabsn. (dbl. Bsn.)/4 Hns. (4 descant horns optional/4 Tr. in C (2.,3., and 4. dbl. Flugelhorns; 3. dbl. Bass Tr. in E – flat)/2 Tenor Trb. (2. dbl. Bass trb.)/Bass Trb. (dbl. Contrabass trb.)/Tuba/7 Perc: 1: Timp. (At least 4 drums including 1 Piccolo drum)
/2: Timp. (At least 4 drums including 1 Picc. drum); Tam-tam, Piatti, Chimes, Bowed Crot.)/3: Xyl., Church Bell (off), Piatti, Tom-toms, Bowed Crot., Tam-tam, Sm. Susp. Cym., Pno. (assist the pianist), Gong, Ten. Dr., Sn. Dr./4: Glock., Bass Dr., Med. Sus. Cym., Vibr., Tamb., Bowed Crot./5: Maracas, Whip, Ratchet, Vibr., Snare Dr., Mar., Med. Sus. Cym., Gong, Tam-tam/6: Lrg. Sus. Cym., Xyl., Bowed Crot., Gong/7: Snare dr., Cabasa, Ten. Dr., Lrg. Sus. Cym., Sm. Sus. Cym., 4 Tom-toms, Xyl., Crot., Glock., Bowed Crot.,
Gong, 4 Timb./Pno. (Dbl. Wind Chimes)/Cel. (Dbl.Wind Chimes)/2 Harps/Sop. Solo/Mezzo-sop. Solo/Bar. Solo/SATB Chorus (At least 16 singers)/Strings (12 – 12 – 10 – 8 – 8 minimum)

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Piano vocal score:         $25.00
Conductor’s score:       $75.00
Parts rental:                  $500 (Academic discount available)

Duration: 30’

Program notes and performance history: The Canción de Yerma (1981-1986) a symphony for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra, was conceived as one of two grand projects (the other was the opera Lorca, Child of the Moon) on which I was working during my graduate school years at the University of Southern California.  The first two movements were written in 1983 and 1984, the third in 1987.  The orchestrations were revised in 1993 and again in 2004.  My main teachers at the time were
Morten Lauridsen and James Hopkins, both of whom exercised an incalculable influence over my work and subsequent development.  In the late eighties when this work was written and (in part) premiered, grand Romantic pieces such as this, influenced more by Mahler than Boulez, were largely disdained by the cognoscenti.  (To this day, music of mine from the same period raises the hackles of some critics in my home town, despite the fact that this ‘battle’ was over decades ago!) 

Federico García Lorca’s tragic heroine Yerma embodies the ultimate and monumental expression of one of the poet’s most personal and haunting themes – the anguish of the childless woman.  Central to the Canción de Yerma I chose three of Yerma’s most poignant soliloquies and arranged them in the same dramatic sequence in which they appear in the play.  The work begins as does the play:  Yerma daydreams; she hears the lonely, haunted sound of a neighbor woman singing a lullaby (A la nana, nana, nana.) 
After an extended orchestral development of pent-up passion based on themes suggested by this prologue, Yerma responds with ‘¿De donde vienes, amor, mi niño?’ a cradle song set as a surrealistic dialogue with her unborn child. (A very different setting of this same text appears in my opera Lorca, Child of the Moon, which was written more or less concurrently.)  In the third movement, which commences abruptly with an outpouring of impassioned grief, (¡Ay, qué prado de pena!) Yerma’s
obsession brings her to the brink of madness.  In the fourth, (Ave Maria gratia plena/No te pude ver) she joins a group of pilgrims who venture into the mountains to take part in the ‘romería,’ a quasi-religious fertility ritual, where she encounters a group of penitent women, as well as a group of crude, taunting males.  In the fifth movement, (Señor, que florezca la rosa,) Yerma finds solace – and hope – in prayers.  The sixth, and final movement, (A la nana, nana, nana),    a brief epilogue that recalls the opening lullaby, this time sung by Yerma, reveals that her dream is, tragically, not to be fulfilled.

Text and translation


Villançicos, Book Two (high voice and guitar or piano) 1981

Commissioned for and premiered by soprano Lynn West and guitarist Thomas West, Macmillan Theatre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 22, 1981.

Published by Ian Krouse Music.

Duration: 16’

Program notes and performance history:  Villançicos, Book II was commissioned by the Toronto ‘Guitar ‘81’ International Festival for soprano Lynn West and guitarist Thomas West and premiered by the husband and wife duo in the Macmillan Theatre, University of Toronto, on June 22, 1981.  Though originally intended for a tenor voice (the text is designed from the male perspective) it has most often been done by sopranos, for whom the high tessitura is typically more manageable.  It is entirely possible to
drop the key of the guitar part a full half step, which puts the piece in the range for a high baritone, with a bit of falsetto here and there.  A sequel to Villançicos, Book I, written in 1976, the work continues to explore the age-old tradition of art songs accompanied by a plucked instrument, in this case the guitar.  The guitar writing is highly idiomatic and rich with counterpoint and textural effects, while the vocal style is alternately passionate and introspective, creating a true psychological dialogue with the
guitarist.  The set


Text and translation  

Villançicos, Book One (soprano and guitar) 1976   


Premiered
by soprano Jane Thorngren and guitarist Terry Graves at the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, University of Southern California, May 5 (?), 1978.

Published
by Ian Krouse Music.

Score: $25.00

Duration: 16’

Program notes and performance history: The first of two books of villançicos, written during my college years, is one of my earliest published works and my first for solo voice.  Each deals with different phases of love, all from the female perspective.  The first song introduces a very frustrated woman, whose lover tarries inexplicably, though “midnight has come and gone.”  Its refrain, however, reveals the measure of passion she holds for the lingerer.  The second song finds the lovers married, but still
in the throws of youthful ardor. The deliberately expressionistic style – which even employs sprechstimme – is a seduction, pure and simple.  The third song – at once the most passionate and profound – reveals that the lovers are now separated.  It explores the passion of Flamenco.  The last song is frivolous and playful.  The lovers are reunited but clearly bored with each other.  The woman exhorts her consort to show some life – whether or not he does so is left to the imagination.

At the time I wrote these songs, I was working largely in a highly complex, often harsh, atonal style, typical of many academic composers in the seventies.  These little songs, though certainly quite sophisticated, seemed much simpler by comparison.  I had stumbled upon a language that later came to be referred to as ‘style modulation.’  I did not know at the time that this was to be the direction I would explore from that point to the present day.  Each of the poems is taken from a Renaissance composition but I made
no reference whatsoever to the original music or its style.  Though transcription and transformation of others’ compositions is a technique that has fascinated me for a long time that was not my aim here.  Frankly, I was mainly interested in writing successfully for the voice.  Again, I could not have known at the time that I would return again and again to the song and its offshoots as a vehicle for creative expression, but that has in fact been the case.  This set has been championed by soprano Alba Quezada and
guitarist Terry Graves.


Reviews:

“The emancipation process for both musicians, however, reached its peak in Ian Krouse’s “Villançicos,” which places 15th-century Spanish texts in a refreshingly oblique modern idiom.”

Charles McCardell, WASHINGTON POST, February 21, 1992.

"Villancicos, Book I,” a setting of 15th-Century Spanish poems for soprano and guitar, is written in a recognizably Spanish tinged musical language.  But the strumming guitar music quickly goes astray into dissonance, halts, starts over and loses its way again.  The soprano line floats perilously above in filigree, nervously stretching out single words, breaking into spoken recitation.  Alba Quezada sang…with focused lyricism and playfulness with guitarist Terry Graves supporting eloquently.”

Timothy Mangan, LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 17, 1991

Text and translation

Nocturnes (baritone, two violins, viola, cello and bass) 2010

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes, Hymn, p. 57
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes, Love Song, p. 17
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes, The Night, p. 35
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes, Twilights, p. 1

Nocturnes (baritone and piano) 2011

CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes piano reduction, Hymn, p. 39
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes piano reduction, Love Song, p. 13
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes piano reduction, Twilights, p. 1
CLICK HERE FOR PDF SAMPLE PAGE--Nocturnes piano reduction, The Night, p. 26

Commissioned by the Dilijan Chamber Series for baritone, Vladimir Chernov, who, with violinists Searmi Park and Varty Manoulian, violist Andrew McIntosh, cellist, Timothy Landauer, and bassist David Parmeter, conducted by the composer, gave its premiere at Zipper Hall, Colburn School, Los Angeles, California, on September 22, 2010.  The version with piano was premiered by Mr. Chernov with pianist Artur Afenesov at the Lark Musical Society, Glendale, California, on January 30, 2011.

Published by: Drazark Music, Pasadena, California.  In progress. To order these scores
contact Ian Krouse Music.

Duration: 30’

Program notes and performance history:

Nocturnes, a song cycle on texts by three celebrated Armenian poets in the original language, was commissioned by the Dilijan Chamber Series for the celebrated Russian baritone, Vladimir Chernov, who gave its premiere with the composer conducting the Dilijan Chamber Players at Zipper Hall in Los Angeles on September 22, 2010.   It was composed mainly over a two-week period that the composer spent in Japan in the summer of 2010. Made of four poems by well-known Armenian poets who flourished in the early decades of the 20th century, the cycle takes the form of a proto-narrative psychological odyssey through the inner mind of a man at mid life.   Though set at dusk, the first song Twilights reveals a troubled protagonist who seeks solace in light images: a saffron bedecked virgin, the gilded sun, the radiant daylight of moon.  The “light-craver” finds temporary relief in Love Song where a passionate outpouring fueled by sensuous images of hashish and balm, and, even more revealing, kisses of light, succumbs, yet again, to sadness and despair.  The Night – the most complex song of the set – begins from the depths of darkest night.  Based loosely upon Schubert’s song Der doppelgänger, it assumes almost symphonic dimensions as it gradually picks up momentum: at its culmination it has evolved into a roiling swirl of dance musics, based, again as with the Schubert, quite freely, on the opening motif of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. (A careful listener will hear hints of the Beethoven in the very opening bars of the work as well!)  Mahari’s text, which in contrast to the Metzarents poems, is in Eastern Armenian dialect, is revelry of nostalgic images of the past, with colorful references to cymbals, bambirs (an ancient lute-like instrument) and other dancing images.  Though the lines “And all around me were faded days, and faded flower petals” reveal lingering melancholy, the man appears to have re-found hope and youthful vitality, again by turning towards the light: “My autumn is distant still and my days to me appear still light and still bright.” Hymn, a setting of Terian’s poem I Will Come, is again in Eastern Armenian dialect.   (It is coincidental that the dark opening songs are set in the Western dialect – from the direction of the setting sun - whereas the optimistic third and fourth songs find the singer turning towards the East, and dawn, for redemption and solace.)  Our careful listener may notice that the last song is not only a transformation of the Schubert, now in the warm key of B-major, but a recapitulation of the very beginning of the cycle as well; this only a hint of the many symphonic aspirations of the work.  It ends pianissimo with the profoundly hopeful lines: “I will hold your hand, and grasp your grief, I will kindle new lights in your soul!”

Ian Krouse, September, 2010

 

Reviews:

 “The most striking work of the day was the song cycle Nocturnes for baritone and string quintet by American composer Ian Krouse (b.1956).  For his texts, Krouse, a professor at UCLA, selected poems by the renowned Armenian poets Missak Metzarents, Gourgen Mahari and Vahan Terian.  The metaphors of darkness and the search for light, both physical and psychological, inform the words and the music with depth and empathy.  The trajectory of Krouse's score is powerful because it is complex and truthful.  His expert use of a widely extended tonality conveys strong emotion, as witnessed by the enthusiastic audience response. This is music that will repay many hearings.  It clearly deserves a place in the standard repertory.”

Charles Fierro, Sept. 26, 2010

Text and Translation-- pdf version

Text and Translation--MS Word version