Beautiful Women

 

 

Beautiful Women - (2009)    

Ezra Pound

for baritone and piano


 

"It rests me to be among beautiful women.
Why should one always lie about such matters?
I repeat:
It rests me to converse with beautiful women
Even though we talk nothing but nonsense,

The purring of the invisible antennæ
Is both stimulating and delightful."

[ 2 pages, circa 2' 15" ]


Ezra Pound

 

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, "beautiful women."

 

 

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.

 

Beautiful Women