Three Lullabies for Trakl

ENS.2012.7 | 10.31.12-11.01.12 | 5’
Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto or Small Female Choir

Midi Rendition of “Three Lullabies for Trakl – 1.”
Midi Rendition of “Three Lullabies for Trakl – 2.”
Midi Rendition of “Three Lullabies for Trakl – 3.”

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Three Lullabies for Trakl
Poem by John Yau

The lyrical poetry of John Yau has always particularly suited my music, and the “Three Lullabies for Trakl” from his basically perfect collection “Borrowed Love Poems” always stood out as something I’d like to set. Originally I was was going to write a little cycle for voice and piano, and I got so far as to compose an entire first song for soprano with two clarinets, Stravinsky-style, but then I was stuck.

Sick, trapped in the house as Hurricane Sandy ravaged the city outside (though I’ve got power and water and everything here in midtown, downtown it’s a real Tale of Two Cities out there, sadly), I wanted to write something simple and lyrical. Noodling around on the piano, since there are three inversions of a basic major triad, I had the idea of beginning each song with one, symmetrically moving out and in from those notes to provide the basic material.

A dulcet female choir, either with solo voices or somewhat larger, seemed ideal for these straightforward settings. This is probably the easiest piece to perform I’ve written since I was a kid, and maybe better for it? Coming after my Clarinet Quintet and Vanishing Points I’m really feeling the whole homophony thing right now. We’ll see where that takes us.

Though Three Lullabies for Trakl isn’t specifically about the massive hurricane and its aftermath we’re all still trying to get through as I write this, maybe the piece could be though of as an island of quiet stillness in the midst of all this craziness.