Beautiful Women - (2009)
for baritone and piano
"It rests me to be among beautiful women.
Why should one always lie about
It rests me to converse with beautiful women
Even though we talk nothing but nonsense,
The purring of the
Is both stimulating and delightful."
[ 2 pages, circa 2' 15" ]
The text is drawn from Pound's collection, Lustra, published in 1916,
and originally titled "Tame Cat." The sentiment suggested by his title as by
the image of women "purring" mixes images of tameness with the hidden
ability to "draw one's claws." Yet I found in the poem a reflection from my
own experiences. Having traveled much in a singing career, I had the
opportunity to spend much time in the company of, as Pound says, "beautiful
women." Beauty as measured by a variety of criteria, often I preferred their
company and open friendship to the men with whom I also worked, for I never
threatened -- from a silly yet all too modern feminist perspective -- them
so much as appreciated and honored them. For this, I hold in my remembrances
many delightful days in the presence of "stimulating and delightful" and
most assuredly "beautiful" women.
The broadly spaced, polytonal chords fall slowly over a C major pedal,
before reaching the subdominant through a succession of open fifths. The
vocal line is quasi paralando with the greater lyricism lying in the
rhapsodic accompaniment. The argument of the poet is bolstered by its
openness. A question is posed, to which there is no proposed nor wanted
answer. The opening dynamic is marked mezzo forte, and further
dynamics are not suggested in the score, as the performers are encouraged to
find their own expression in dynamics as in rubati.
The momentary visit to A flat over which the polytonality in the upper
voices continues its downward trend gives way to the original gestures
rooted in C again, and the last and now lyrical line in the voice,
The score for Beautiful Women is available as a free PDF download,
though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is
prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic
below for this piano-vocal score.