Andrew Webb-Mitchell

Works

Enough Light to Sing By Op.3a/b

  • Libretto
  • Scoring
Joanna Boulter, poet

The Nightingale in Love

by Joanna Boulter (1942 – 2019)
(“Le Rossignol En Amour” –  after Couperin)

I’ll play this one
for you, you said, out of the blue.

No prelude, then; simply, a private hearing
at a public concert. The sopranino,
smallest of the recorder family,
warmed in your breast-pocket while I sat
anonymous in the hall, schooling my face
to purely musical response.

I watched you lip the pipe
before me, breathe life into it,
tonguing the phrases into flowing shape
as underneath your hands the music grew.

Oh, the roulades, the liquid melismatic
tremblings of sound, the fainting ecstasies,
bravura passions! mellifluous risings and fallings!

The craft of it! Seduced by a vibrant column of air!

And dared I trust
such practised trillings, as bird, composer, player
poured out his heart with that consummate skill?
I thought I heard
the plangent note of genuine artistry;

but only know, every performance since
borrows your breath, your lips, to tell again
those passionate promises.

Op.3a High voice and orchestra
Op.3b High voice and piano

Enough Light to Sing By, is a further setting of poems by the late English poet, Joanna Boulter. Each movement embraces strongly musical subjects. The titles are as follows: Wintereisse 1963 and The English Hymnal from Blue Horse , Who Is Really Listening? from On Sketty Sands, The Nightingale In Love from the Vane Women collection Love In Vane, and the currently unpublished poems Lament for Ivor Gurney and To An Asian Violinist. Joanna Boulter had trained as a musician in her youth and was at one point an accomplished cellist. Her experiences as a musician and her appreciation of classical music permeated much of her work and Andrew was able to draw inspiration from the innate musicality of her words.

Joanna published three major collections, including 24 Preludes and Fugues on Shostakovich (2006), Blue Horse (2014) and There Was a Maze (2019). Between the years 2007 and 2011, Joanna worked closely with Andrew on the libretto for his first song symphony, meticulously crafting the texts to his requirements.

Enough Light to Sing By

 

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