ENS.2006.7 | 6′
Text by Anthony Doerr
Tenor & 2 Bass Clarinets, 2 Violins
I found myself pleasantly surprised by Anthony Doerrâ€™s About Grace, a â€œrealistâ€ literary novel Iâ€™d picked up for a dollar at the Strand because his other book had shells on the cover and I like books with shells on the cover. It turned out to be genuinely moving, combining stretches of astonishing beauty describing the natural world with meaningful insights into human nature. Four brief passages especially struck me, and I set them aside for further use.
One thing that has long interested me is the setting of essentially arrhythmic prose whose only regularities are that of speech. Like JanÃ¡Äek I generally prefer to set such texts as naturally as possible, my music matching the rising and falling of the line rather than attempting to artificially corral the irregular text in a singsong rhythm. However, the latter approach can be effectiveâ€”as proven by Barberâ€™s perfect Knoxville: Summer of 1915â€”and thatâ€™s the direction I went in this work, with its lilting barcarolles suggesting the rise and fall of the ocean.