Off the Deep End

ENS.2006.8a/b | 26’/9′
Poems by Matthea Harvey
Soprano & Piano or Soprano & Flute, Bass Clarinet, Piano, Violin, Cello

Score (Soprano & Piano)

Score (Soprano & Flute, Bass Clarinet, Piano, Violin, Cello)

Off the Deep End (Soprano & Piano)

1. Introduction to the World

2. Not So Much Miniature As Far Away

3. The Unconsciousness of Feelings

4. Machine for Jean Rhys

5. Color by Number

6. To Zanzibar by Motorcar

7. Snowglobe Hypothesis

8. Life-Size Is What We Are

9. Bird Transfer

10. Can We See

11. A Ruffle, a Rendezvous

12. Our Square of Lawn

13. Going Over the Deep End Into Confectionery

Matthea Harvey’s poem Everything Must Go, first published in The New Yorker many years ago, impressed me so much I set it (badly!) in my first-ever song cycle (Late Sun) before immediately setting out in search of more. Her book Sad Little Breathing Machine was a revelation, and lent its title to an instrumental piece even before I set this selection from its pages.

In October 2006 I got sick, as I often do around that time of year, and instead of moping I spent my convalescence setting a variety of Harvey’s poems. I chose thirteen favorites, all of which share brief two-line stanzas, and arranged them in an order that begins energetically before gradually subsiding into languor over the half-hour length of the work. Simultaneously, the songs make their way through every chromatic scale degree, beginning in C, moving down to B, and so on until they reach C-level.

I would like to thank Matthea for her enthusiasm for this project, and the cycle is dedicated to her.

Off the Deep End (Soprano & Flute, Bass Clarinet, Piano, Violin, Cello)

1. Color by Number

2. Can We See

3. Not So Much Miniature as Far Away

4. A Ruffle, a Rendezvous

5. Machine for Jean Rhys

After completing the song cycle Off the Deep End in 2006, setting for voice and piano poems from Sad Little Breathing Machine by the wonderful poet Matthea Harvey, the next year I arranged it for small ensemble and a decade later transformed that into this final version for “pierrot” ensemble.