Program Note from the composer:
Until I heard Amanda and Justin Smith at a concert they gave in New York City in 2006. I was never aware of the rich possibilities that the combination of soprano and violin provided a composer who is always looking for new instrumental combinations to excite his musical imagination. It was, of course, both the quality of the music they chose and their success at presenting it that caught my attention. The idea of setting the text of “Under the Greenwood Tree” may already have occurred to me even as I listened to them, a text that I had set for voice and piano when I was probably no more than 16 years old. Although the remainder of the current setting is quite different, the opening motive is exactly the same and generates everything thereafter in the music. Being a performer myself, I am acutely aware of how music ought to be programmed in order to be effective so that it seemed clear that Shakespeare’s poem required a companion if its musical setting would ever appear on a concert program. George Meredith’s somber poem seemed a suitable partner even though the liveliness of Shakespeare’s scarcely suggests it. To those who think that the two texts have nothing in common I recommend examining Shakespeare’s more closely; they may discover an ominous undertone that suggests that the meaning is not quite so carefree as seems at first.
1. Under the Greenwood Tree (William Shakespeare)
2. Dirge in Woods (George Meredith)