Mezzo soprano and piano
Date of composition: 2012-2021
About Six Elinor Wylie settings
Beginning with the setting of Elinor Wylie’s text Bells in the Rain in 2012, this collection of settings has grown over the years at the request of performers. Here are six settings of Wylie’s texts which can either be performed as individual works or as a collection with some of the others.
Phases of the Moon (2019)
Phases of the Moon is a reflective setting of the text of the same name by Elinor Wylie. The piano begins with a giant rippling chord, introducing the moon, before starting a texture of waxing and waning as it cycles through phases. The mezzo soprano line soars above the piano, at times contemplative and at others bold while she muses about the lunar phases.
You Are (2020)
You are is a setting of Elinor Wylie’s poem Nancy. The text explores statements contrary to one another – roses with sharp spines, and pretty birds pecking at the writer. To continue the contrasts, this setting combines a more staccato, angular piano part with a lyrical melody line, which itself meanders between major and minor tonality as it contemplates the contrasts it sings about.
As the song progresses, more certainty begins to creep into the text, which is echoed in the music. The song begins with contrast, journeys into clarity, and resolves into an acceptance that falls somewhere between the two.
The hypnotic, chant like quality of Incantation is echoed in this setting. The voice leads the charm, with the piano accompaniment echoing and reaffirming the mystical tone. The somewhat unusual time signature both captures the audience and augments the magical quality of the words. As the story – or spell – progresses, it becomes more elaborate, adding flourishes to the foundations already laid.
Silver Filigree (2021)
In Silver Filigree, the singer ponders the beauty and delicateness of icicles. A meandering melody falls over a gentle piano accompaniment as it contemplates the subject at hand. In the central section of the piece the tone takes on a more minor feel with a little more momentum, before returning to her ponderings.
Sunset on the Spire (2020)
In Sunset on the Spire, the voice contemplates home and familiarity. A warm, lilting vocal line reflects the feelings of home and comfort, with the piano providing a gentle, supportive accompaniment.
Bells in the Rain (2012)
This settling of Elinor Wylie’s emotional poem concentrates two key emotive elements: the bells, and the rain, both of which are important concepts throughout the music. Constant falling motifs in the piano accompaniment work alongside the vocal lines as the rain storm gains strength and later fades as the piece progresses. Sudden piano chords punctuate the texture, while the music continues with a slightly uneasy edge as the listener is left to contemplate where the tale will turn to next.
Digital PDF of Six Elinor Wylie settings available via Payhip.
Recordings of more of the six settings to come soon – but for now, here’s Bells in the Rain:
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