3. SOLO VOICE/ VOICE+PIANO

3. SOLO VOICE /VOICE + PIANO

 

(scores in alphabetical order)

 

ALARCH, YR (THE SWAN) (2009) (Anon. 14th century) 6'  LISTEN

solo baritone 

Text translated into English by the composer.


1st UK perf: Gwion Thomas, St Joseph’s Church, Highgate, London, 18 Jan 2009; 

1st USA perf: Matthew Hoch, Julie Collins Museum of Fine Art, Auburn, Alabama, 11 Jan, 2018. Toured throughout the southern USA by Matthew Hoch in 2018. 

Pub. Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase,  ref Y258

Yr Alarch requires a two-and-a-half octave range, extensive use of falsetto, extreme dynamic contrasts, a variety of vocal tone colours and the use of various extended vocal techniques. Such a palette of diverse sounds is a cornucopia to the ear and stimulates our imagination to envision the wild and untamable swan.
               Matthew Hoch, 'A Shining Crag: Rhian Samuel's Yr Alarch', IAWM Journal, 25,1

 

ALARCH, YR  (THE SWAN) (2016) (Anon.14th century) 6' LISTEN

Version for solo soprano 

Text translated into English by the composer 

 

1st perf: Elin Manahan Thomas, Powis Hall, Bangor University, 3 March 2016 (Bangor Music Festival). 

Pub. Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, ref Y341

 

Samuel's ingenious setting of this anonymous 14th-century poem offers a striking musical evocation of the swan in all its guises, from soaring arcs of melody to pattering snippets of exploratory vocalisation. 

                      Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine, Sept. 2021

 

Elin Manahan -Thomas’s dexterity in Rhian Samuel’s unaccompanied Yr Alarch is a real treat and shows just how far the art-song medium has been carried forward by Welsh hands and Welsh voices.

                    John-Paul Davies, Buzz Magazine, June 4, 2021

BEFORE DAWN (1988) (May Sarton) 9½' LISTEN 

medium/high voice and piano 

No. III from The White Amaryllis (see below) 

 

1st perf: Sharon Mabry, mezzo-sop, Patsy Wade, pf, British Music Information Centre, London, 29 June 1988; 1st broadcast perf: same performers, 27 October 1988 (WGBH Boston).

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, S&B ref H406 

 

[Before Dawn is]... a poignant new setting of a May Sarton text about mourning – almost Tristan-esque in its  harmony, and with lots of dramatic shifts in volume level before its final resolution on an angry low note. 

                James Wierzbicki, St Louis Post Dispatch, 15 September 1988 

 

Before Dawn speaks from quiet rage and is set to touching poetry about someone’s ability to mourn . . . The vocal line is full of anxious crescendos and striking half-spoken melodic lines. 

               Whitney Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 27 September 1989

 

CERDDI HYNAFOL/ANCIENT SONGS (2001) 11' 

mezzo-soprano and piano

Commissioned by the Fishguard Festival

     I.  Hwiangerdd Dinogat (Lullaby for Dinogat) LISTEN   LISTEN 
     II.  Galarnad Heledd (Heledd’s Lament)  LISTEN   LISTEN 
     III.  Crys y Mab (The Young Man’s Shirt) LISTEN  LISTEN

 

1st perf: Joanne Thomas (mezzo), Ingrid Surgenor (pf), Fishguard Festival, Fishguard, Wales,  21 July 2001;  1st broadcast perf: 24 August 2001 (BBC Radio 3) 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, ref S&B Y183

FLOWING SAND, THE  (2006) (Samuel Beckett) 15' 

baritone and piano 

Commissioned by Cardiff University with funds from the Arts Council of Wales

     I.  what would I do LISTEN 
     II.  my way is in the sand  LISTEN 
     III. Da Tagte Es   LISTEN    
     IV. Roundelay  LISTEN
     V. saying again LISTEN

             

1st perf: Adam Green (bar), Indre Petrauskaite (pf), Temple of Peace, Cardiff, 9 March 2006. (Opening concert, Beckett/Proust/Deleuze conference, School of European Studies, Cardiff University) 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, ref Y230 

 

As always with Rhian Samuel’s music there is great craftsmanship and powerful rhetoric in both the vocal line and piano writing . . . I am drawn to the still centre of the group, a song just one page long, ‘Da Tagte es’. With its austere  piano texture at beginning and end, and rapid ignition of passion in the middle, it could feel too extreme, but it doesn’t  – instead the simplicity of means is haunting and the writing is supremely effective.

                        Sue Anderson, Singing, Winter 2006

 

GAZE, THE  (2013) (Shakespeare) c.6' LISTEN

soprano and piano
Commissioned by Caroline Macphie for the CD Love said to me’, Stone Records

 

1st perf: Caroline MacPhie, sop, Joseph Middleton, pf, 22 Mansfield Street, London, 9 December, 2013; 1st USA perf: Patricia Goble, sop, Russell Hirshfield, pf, Wheeler Concert Hall, Casper Community College, Wyoming, USA,1 March, 2015.

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2015

 

HARE IN THE MOON, THE  (1978) (Ryokan) 9'  LISTEN    LISTEN

soprano and piano 
First prize, 1978 Forum for Composers, St Louis, Missouri, USA 

Text translated by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite 

 

1st USA perf: Carole Gaspar (sop), Christine Smith (pf), Forest Park College, St Louis, Missouri, 28 March 1978. 1st UK perf: Kym Amps (soprano), Simon Nicholls (pf), Reading University, 1 May, 1993.  

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase, ref H412 

 

Subtitled, ‘Narrative, Threnody and Envoi’,  this is really a miniature cantata. . . . It sits very comfortably in the soprano voice, but a flexible mezzo would also be suitable: the one high note is so well set that it is unlikely to fail.  The composer manages to incorporate spoken and Sprechstimme passages within the natural inflections of the wide-ranging phrases, and the whole piece sparkles with vitality and spontaneity. The clear-textured piano part underlines and illustrates the story, and balance between voice and piano is ideal. . . .The ‘Threnody’ and ‘Envoi’ are contrasting miniature arias, the first full of virtuoso display, and the latter a tender and poetical resolution.

               Jane Manning, New Vocal Repertory, Volume 2, 1998.


Samuel has invented a magical atmosphere through angular vocal lines that switch from singing to speaking. . . . Enjoy singing this short work, while having fun telling the story. The audience will be mesmerised if the singer is totally immersed in the telling of the tale.     

               Sharon Mabry, NATS Journal (USA), September/October 2000               

 

The Hare in the Moon draws on a translation of a poetic Japanese narrative with sacrifice at its heart. For the composer, an avowed concern was the relationship between speech, recitative and pure lyricism. The piece is, however, rather more than a technical exercise, the climactic threnody and final elegy achieving real eloquence.                 

                   Peter Palmer, Tempo 62 (244), 77

 

[The Hare in the Moon] mixed narration with dramatic coloratura passages in a delightful account of a Japanese folk tale. 

                       Simon Collings, The Oxford Times, 14 April 2010


IN THE HALL OF MIRRORS (1985) (James Merrill) c.8'

medium voice and piano

Commissioned by Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, for James Merrill Symposium, 1985) 


Commissioned perf:  Mary Henderson, soprano, Seth Carlin, piano, Steinberg Hall Washington Univ, St Louis, MO, USA, 26 April, 1985; 1st broadcast perf: Sharon Mabry, mezzo-soprano, Patsy Wade, piano, National Public Radio, USA. 22 April, 1986; 1st UK perf: Mary King, soprano, Andrew Ball, piano, St John's Smith Square, London, 14 January, 1987.

Copies available from the composer.  

 

[Samuel] had devised a shapely musical form for the verse that both drew out its sense and made a smooth musical sequence. I can imagine her applying that elegant knack to literary or dramatic material on a grander scale. . . .            

                       David Murray, Financial Times, 16 January, 1987


MOON AND BIRDS
 (2011) (A.Stevenson & E. Dickinson) 11'

medium voice and piano 

(See also version for medium voice and small ensemble) 

 

      I.   Blackbird (Anne Stevenson)                      

      II.  The moon is distant (Emily Dickinson)  

      III.  Bird in hand (Anne Stevenson)
      IV.  On not being able to look at the moon (Anne Stevenson)

 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, ref Y291 

 

MOON AND I, THE (2019) (Tabitha Hayward and Anne Stevenson)  15'

medium voice and piano

Commissioned by the Ludlow English Song Weekend

 

      1. Moonrise (Anne Stevenson) LISTEN 

      2. Philomela (Tabitha Hayward) LISTEN

      3. The Moon (Tabitha Hayward) LISTEN

      4. The Moon and I (Tabitha Hayward) LISTEN

 

1st perf. Kathryn Rudge, mezzo, Iain Burnside, piano. St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow, UK, 30 October, 2021

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2020. 

 

MOON OVER MAENEFA (2020) (Gerard Manley Hopkins) LISTEN 

 

1st perf. Marcus Dawson, baritone, Angela Burgess Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London

31 March, 2021.  

RAM 200th Anniversary celebrations

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2021 

 

NANTCOL SONGS (2003) (Anne Stevenson) 9'

medium/high voice and piano

Commissioned by the Presteigne Festival 

       I. The Wind, the Sun and the Moon 
       II. A Perfect View LISTEN 

 

1st perf, 'A Perfect View': Gillian Keith (sop), Simon Lepper (pf), St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne, 25 August 2003.  ‘A Garland for Presteigne’, celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Presteigne Festival. 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase, ref  Y213

 

. . . Rhian Samuel’s colourful and appropriately angular portrayal of a Snowdonian peak in ‘A Perfect View’. . . 

                        David Hart, The Birmingham Post, 27 August 2003

 

SONGS OF EARTH AND AIR (1983, rev. 2002) 25' 

[new edition, 2021]

medium voice and piano 

      I.   April Rise (Laurie Lee)   

      II.  The Kingfisher (W. H. Davies) 
      III.  Snowdrop (Jon Silkin)
      IV.  A Warm Rain (Kenneth Leslie)

 

1st perf, I & II: Edmund LeRoy (bar), Kirt Pavitt (pf), St Louis Conservatory of Music, St Louis, Missouri, USA, 27 Feb 1983; 1st perf, complete cycle: Sharon Mabry (mezzo), Patsy Wade (pf), King’s College, London, 4 Oct 1984. 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.    Copies available for purchase, Y204, Y205, Y206 and Y207 

 

The texts are set with great sensitivity . . . the organisation of musical materials is always in the service of the text, never abstracted from it. . . . Miss Samuel has resolved the age-old dilemma of the text-singer-accompaniment relationship by creating a keyboard part which is not so much an accompaniment as an instrumental commentary on the text. 

                              Michael Beckerman, St Louis Globe-Democrat, 1 March 1983

 

SPRING DIARY (2010) (Anne Stevenson)  13' 

baritone and piano 

      I.  Arrival Dream 

      II.  Snow Squalls 
      III. It Happens 
      IV. East Wind 
      V. A Clearer Memory  LISTEN    

                         

1st perf: Jonathan Sells (bar), Ja Yeon Kang (pf), City University, London, 5 Feb 2010 

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase, ref Y272

SUMMER SONGS (2012) c.7'

 medium/high voice and piano 


     I.  In Summer (Denise Levertov)  

    II.  A Dragonfly in the Sun (Zulfikar Ghose)  LISTEN    

 

1st perf: James Gilchrist (ten), William Vann (pf), The Forge, Camden Town, London, 10 May 2012 (London English Song Festival) 

Pub. Stainer & Bell.   ref Y297

Rhian Samuel’s Summer Songs are close-textured and chromatic evocations of night and a dragonfly in the sun. These vivid settings brought tonal freshness before Frauenliebe und -leben.                   

                            Amanda-Jane Doran, Classical Source. 26 Feb, 2019

 

Centuries on [after Clara Schumann’s ‘Liebst du um Schonheit’], Rhian Samuel’s beautiful Summer Songs with musings on sunshine and a flitting, darting dragonfly provided stark contrast to the more soothingly lyrical offerings.   

                            Eileen Caiger Gray, Mature Times, 28 Feb, 2019

 

SWIFT RADIANT MORNING, A  (2015) (Charles Hamilton Sorley) c.17'

baritone and piano 
Commissioned by the 2015 Three Choirs Festival 

      I.  Rooks

      II.  The Sounds of War
      III. The Signpost  LISTEN  
      IV. In Memoriam   LISTEN  
       V. Earth’s King

 

1st perf: Roderick Williams (baritone), Susie Allan (piano), Holy Trinity Church, Hereford, 25 July 2015 (Three Choirs Festival); 1st broadcast: BBC Radio 3, same perfs, 28 July, 2015.

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.  Copies available for purchase, ref Y329 

 

The highlight was A Swift Radiant Morning, five settings of Charles Sorley by Rhian Samuel, a festival commission of great originality which calls for semi-spoken or even shouted effects from the soloist. They were written with Williams in mind, and Samuel’s oblique harmonies plus the explosive evocation of war by this young poet who died at Loos in 1915, aged 20, made a universal impression.                    

                    Roderic Dunnett, bachtrack.com, August 2015

                                                                                          

Samuel set the text in an intensely dramatic fashion and her music was graphically performed by Williams and Allan. . .  The music seemed to me, at a first hearing, to be a gripping and moving response to the words. 

                    John Quinn, seenandheard-international.com, July 2015 

 

WHITE AMARYLLIS, THE (1991) (May Sarton)  23' 

medium/high voice and piano

       I. Celebration  LISTEN   LISTEN

       II. The Snow Light LISTEN   LISTEN 
       III. Before Dawn LISTEN   LISTEN  

 

1st perf: Sharon Mabry (mezzo), Patsy Wade (pf), Austin Peay University, Clarksville, Tennessee, USA, 17 October 1991.

Pub.  Stainer & Bell.   Copies available for purchase,  ref AC162

WILDFLOWER SONGBOOK, A  (May, 2014) (Anne Stevenson) 19'

Three songs for mezzo-soprano and piano
Commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust for the Oxford Lieder Festival

       
1. Naming the Flowers LISTEN  
       2. Rosebay Ballad
       3. Digitalis  LISTEN   

1st perf: Anna Stéphany, mezzo, Sholto Kynoch, pf, Holywell Music Room, Oxford (Oxford Lieder Festival) 29 October, 2015; 1st broadcast perf: BBC Radio 3, same performers, 6 Sept 2016. 

Pub. Tŷ Cerdd, 2016