This young American composer’s exquisite setting of Stevenson’s enchanting poem captures perfectly the glistening radiance of the night sky depicted in the text. It is especially well suited to a young and naturally high, bright-voiced singer using a light and well-open head voice. Considerable technical control and poise are needed to maintain the almost unbroken series of shimmering legato lines which cover a wide range and arch gently within the dynamics, which are never louder than piano. The pacing must be exact and breathing thus has to be extremely well planned. (The piece makes an excellent class exercise for young singers in small groups; breaths can be staggered to achieve legato.) Uneven rhythms feature throughout and voice and piano constantly move against each other’s beats, with varied subdivisions. The rhythms constitute the song’s only serious musical difficulty, and once they are mastered they add a pleasing suppleness. Accurate intonation for the many high notes is imperative. Too much vibrato will cloud the clean, pure lines. Notes are grouped in repetitive patterns with only slight variations. The singer can thus orientate pitches and become familiar with the feel of the notes in the voice. The mode of performance should not be too histrionic as that would spoil the entrancing atmosphere. Even though the unequal rhythms can be worked out mathematically and beats marked during the learning stages, there should be no awkward jerks of emphasis to disturb the luxurious seamless phrases. The sparse, simple accompaniment, like the vocal part, lies high in the instrument’s range.
KeywordsLearning Stage Vocal Repertory High Note Uneven Rhythm Strong Syllable
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