Art - (2010)
for medium or high voice and piano
Green arsenic smeared on an egg-white cloth,
Crushed strawberries! Come, let us feast our eyes.
O chansons foregoing
You were a seven days' wonder.
When you came out in the magazines
You created considerable stir in Chicago,
And now you are stale and worn out,
You're a very depleted fashion,
A hoop-skirt, a calash,
An homely, transient antiquity.
Only emotion remains.
Are those of a maitre-de-cafe.
[ 2 pages, circa 1' 40" ]
These are two short poems joined into one song text, "L'Art, 1910" & "Epilogue" from Lustra (1916). Art goes through stages, trends, fashions and styles, sometimes politically encouraged and even enforced, as one saw with National Socialism's setting of standards for approved works, and as with Soviet Socialist Realism. Many more examples abound from history and into only these last years. As Pound penned these short pieces, the visual arts were in a chic upheaval which he captures in two evocative lines. As for songs, they too have trends and fashions, and Pound compares them to faded fashion items.
The opening contrasts diatonic triads in the right hand with "black note" triads in the left for a cacophony leading to the vocal outburst of enthusiasm for "art."
The short-lived polytonal portrait of arsenic green and strawberry red on white yields to an old-fashioned, music hall texture in the accompaniment, repetitive and formulaic, as the vocal line sneers lightly at old-fashioned musical styles deemed passé by modernity.
The score for Art 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.