Tenor Richard Croft and the University of North Texas Grand Chorus join the UNT Symphony Orchestra in this live recording of the 2013 world premiere of the Ahab Symphony, conducted by David Itkin.
Texts by Melville (from Moby-Dick) and W.H. Auden (from his poem “Herman Melville”).
|II.||The Wind [7:03]|
|III.||The Narrow Balcony [7:14]|
|IV.||The Pieces [6:15]|
(Text available below.)
Richard Croft, Tenor
David Itkin, Conductor
Jerry McCoy, Chorus Director
The University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra and Grand Chorus
Recording production, engineering, editing and mastering: David v.R. Bowles (Swineshead Productions, LLC)
Assistant engineer: Blair Liikala
Recording venue: Winspear Hall, Murchison Performing Arts Center, Denton, Texas; April 26-28, 2013
Ahab Symphony was commissioned by the University of North Texas College of Music and Institute for the Advancement of the Arts. It is dedicated to James Scott with love, respect, gratitude and admiration.
Jake Heggie thanks Richard Sparks, Elvia Puccinelli, the generous staff and faculty of the UNT College of Music, Herbert Holl, Margaret McDermott, Mary McDermott Cook, Robert K. Wallace, T. Walter Herbert, Dallas Opera, Gene Scheer, Joyce DiDonato, Curt Branom, Virginia and Bob DuPuy.
The University of North Texas College of Music wishes to thank the UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts for their generous support of this project.
Front cover image: Walvisvangst bij de kust van Spitsbergen – (Dutch Whalers near Spitsbergen), Abraham Storck, 1690
Front cover design: Bradley Haefner
AHAB SYMPHONY TEXT
Drawn from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Chapter 135: “The Chase – Third Day” and from W.H. Auden’s poem “Herman Melville”*
Note: lines from the Auden poem that were not set in the score are in braces [ ]
Movement 1: Dawn
Oh, what a lovely day again! were it a new-made world, and made for a summer-house to the angels, and this morning the first of its throwing open to them, a fairer day could not dawn upon the world.
Towards the end he sailed into an extraordinary mildness
And anchored in his home and reached his wife
And rode within the harbor of her hand,
And went across each morning to an office
As though his occupation were another island.
Goodness existed: that was the new knowledge
His terror had to blow itself quite out
To let him see it; but it was the gale had blown him
Past the Cape Horn of sensible success
Which cries: “This rock is Eden. Shipwreck here.”
[But deafened him with thunder and confused with lightning:
– The maniac hero hunting like a jewel
The rare ambiguous monster that had maimed his sex,
The unexplained survivor breaking off the nightmare –
All that was intricate and false; the truth was simple.]
Movement 2: The Wind
Were I the wind, I’d blow no more on such a wicked, miserable world. I’d crawl
somewhere to a cave, and slink there.
Evil is unspectacular and always human,
And shares our bread and eats at our own table,
And we are introduced to Goodness every day.
[Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;
he has a name like Billy and is almost perfect
But wears a stammer like decoration:]
And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;
It is the Evil that is helpless like a lover
And has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,
And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.
And yet, ‘tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind. Who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow.
How wild the winds blow!
SOLO & CHORUS
A vile wind that has no doubt blown ere this through prison corridors, and wards of
hospitals, and ventilated them, and comes blowing hither as innocent as fleeces.
Out upon it! – it’s tainted.
Movement 3: The Narrow Balcony
For now he was awake and knew
No one is ever spared except in dreams;
[But there was something else the nightmare had distorted –
Even the punishment was human and a form of love:]
The howling storm had been his father’s presence
And all the time he had been carried on his father’s breast.
[Who now had set him gently down and left him.]
He stood upon the narrow balcony and listened:
And all the stars above him sang as in his childhood
‘All, all is vanity,’ but it was not the same;
for now the words descended like the calm of mountains –
[- Nathaniel had been shy because his love was selfish -]
Movement 4: The Pieces
But let me have one more good round look aloft here at the sea; there’s time for that. An old, old sight, and yet somehow so young; aye, and not changed a wink since I first saw it, a boy, from the sand-hills of Nantucket! The same! – the same! – the same to Noah as to me.
But then he cried in exultation and surrender
“The Godhead is broken like bread. We are the pieces.”
Oh, lonely death on lonely life!
I turn my body from the sun.
And sat down at his desk and wrote a story.
* “Herman Melville” by W.H. Auden, used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Copyright © 1939. All Rights Reserved.