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Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour (2004)

For small ensemble and mezzo-soprano and counter-tenor
Text by Wallace Stevens

For mezzo-soprano, counter-tenor, and 1.1.1.altosax.1/1.Ctpt.00/2perc/pf/vn.va.vc.db
The percussion #1 player has to narrate one of the poems. If he or she is not comfortable doing so, it is recommended that an actor or drama student deliver the spoken works from the percussion part. As the narration is crucial to the piece, this option is highly recommended for any performance where the percussion is not comfortable speaking as well as playing.
[NOTE: A small amount of humming and vocalizing is required from 50% of the players. These vocal parts require only an amateur level voice and singing skills.]
Commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University
Premiered by Alarm Will Sound at Columbia University, 7 April 2005
Duration: 8 minutes

Text

Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour
Poem by Wallace Stevens

Light the first light of evening
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one..
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.

 

The Poem That Took The Place Of A Mountain
Poem by Wallace Stevens

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactness
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

Program Note

Commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University, and dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Alan Pierson and to members of the Alarm Will Sound Ensemble, Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour receives its world premiere [on 7 April 2005].  It is 8 minutes in duration and was tailor-made for the specific musicians.  For instance, a violinist in the group is also a counter-tenor, so I took the liberty of using his voice in the piece. I also requested the vocal range of each member of the ensemble and then wrote vocal parts for each. The solo Mezzo-Soprano and the Counter-Tenor sing the text to the Wallace Steven's poem entitled, Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour, while at the same time, members of the ensemble vocalize and chant Stevens' poem, The Poem That Took The Place Of A Mountain.  The two poems are interlaced, as if commenting to one another.

Three works of mine make reference to poems of Stevens, the two others being: Words of the Sea for orchestra and Credences of Summer for orchestra, neither of which set his text but rather their music follows the argument and imagery of his poems.

— Augusta Read Thomas

Selected Reviews

Allan Kozinn, The Wall Street Journal (May 4, 2016) Augusta Read Thomas’s Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour (2004), a quirky setting of two Wallace Stevens poems—the title work, sung by Kirsten Sollek, mezzo-soprano, and Caleb Burhans, countertenor, and “The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain,” spoken by members of the orchestra—has the angularity that used to be a thumbprint of fearsome modernism, but it is harmonically transparent and invitingly theatrical.

 

With Alan Pierson at the recording sessions for Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour

To obtain examination or performance material for any of
Augusta Read Thomas's works, please contact G. Schirmer Inc..