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Pears was innately skilled at the creation of new song works, making him the ideal collaborator for composers and clearly an inspirational artist for whom to write. Yet there was something more. With Pears there was the concomitant presence of all of the particles inherent to the creative process. He was a prolific reader and therefore the ideal text interpreter, with an extensive range of colours and dynamics that were technically available in his voice paired with his seemingly boundless artistic instincts. This tenor’s voice was not universally admired. Yet Pears’s recordings of Britten set the gold standard against which all successive generations of Britten interpreters would need to measure up – defining if not implying an authoritative version for phrasing, dynamics, vocal colours, textual inflection, and tempi, at the very least. This chapter explores the first performances of Pears’s association with dozens of living composers, works for unaccompanied tenor, and combinations of tenor and piano, guitar, harp, and chamber orchestra. The chapter concludes with a table of all of the tenor’s premieres.
A study of Elliott Carter’s song cycles and other text settings from the period 1998-2011, with close readings of both poetry and music. Included are individual analytical essays on Tempo e tempi (poetry by Eugenio Montale, Salvatore Quasimodo, and Giuseppe Ungaretti), Of Rewaking (poems by William Carlos Williams), In the Distances of Sleep (poems by Wallace Stevens), Mad Regales (poems by John Ashbery), “La Musique” (poem by Charles Baudelaire), On Conversing with Paradise (texts from Ezra Pound’s Pisan Cantos), Poems of Louis Zukofsky, What Are Years (poems by Marianne Moore), A Sunbeam’s Architecture (poems by e e cummings), Three Explorations (poems by T. S. Eliot), The American Sublime (poems by Wallace Stevens).
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