Crumb : Songs of despair and hope

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George Crumb

A Journey Beyond Time
(American Songbook II) :
SONGS OF DESPAIR AND HOPE
(A Cycle of Afro-American Spirituals)

for voice, piano and percussion
2005

Henry Cowell

A medley of pieces for piano proposed by Jean-Luc Fafchamps

John Cage

The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs
A Flower
(two pieces for voice and closed piano)
   

   
Measha Brueggergosman, soprano
Georges-Elie Octors, conductor
Jean-Luc Fafchamps, piano
   

   
Gerrit Nulens, percussion
Tom De Cock, percussion
Miquel Bernat, percussion
Ruben Martinez Orio, percussion
Alexandre Fostier, sound
Wilfried Van Dyck : stage
   

    
CRUMB's SONGS
•Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
•Joshua Fit De Battle Ob Jericho
•Steal Away
•Oh, a-Rock-a My Soul
•The Pregnant Earth: A Psalm for Noontide (instrumental)
•Sit Down, Sister
•Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
•Go Down, Moses
•Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless
   

   
(Premiere in Mechelen: Adam Rosenblatt and Ruben Orio, percussion ; Raquel Andueza, voice ; Caspar Langhoff, lighting)

Carefully amplified, the music produced by George Crumb’s piano, emanates from inside the instrument as much as it does from the keyboard, to become a harp, glockenspiel, koto or vibraphone. Mingling with the resonant tones of the four percussionists, this “expansion of the pianistic horizons” invites listeners into a hall of mirrors where everything is hovering, reflecting and splitting.

A touch of tonality, a touch of modality, and invariably exquisitely blurred, Crumb’s music conjures up fictional worlds, submerged memories and forgotten rituals.
With the Songs of Despair and Hope, the composer has arranged and harmonised a series of Afro-American spirituals.
   

   
GEORGE CRUMB
Songs of despair and hope

I. SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.
I looked over Jordan, and what did I see Comin’ for to carry me home?
A band of angels comin’ after me, Comin’ for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.
If you get there before I do, Comin’ for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I’m comin’ there too.
Comin’ for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.

II. JOSHUA FIT DE BATTLE OB JERICHO
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!
You kin talk about yo’ king of Gideon You can talk about yo’ men ob Saul But ere’s none like good ole Joshua At de battle ob Jericho. Dat mornin’
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!
Up to de walls od Jericho
Dey marched wid spear in han’
Go blow dem ram horns, Joshua cried, ’cause de battle am in my han’. Dat mornin’
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!

III. STEAL AWAY
Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, Oh steal away home!
I ain’t got long to stay here.
My Lord, calls me,
He calles me by the thunder!
The trumpet sounds within a my soul.
I ain’t got long to stay here.
Green trees a bendin’.
Poor sinner stands a tremblin’;
The trumpet sounds within a my soul,
I ain’t got long to stay here.
Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, Oh steal away home!
I ain’t got long to stay here.

IV. OH, A-ROCK-A MY SOUL
Oh, a-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
A-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
A-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
Oh, rock-a my soul.
When I went down in the valley to pray,
Oh, rock-a my soul,
My soul got happy an’ I stay’d all day,
Oh, rock-a-my soul.
When I was a mourner jes’ like you,
Oh, rock-a my soul,
I mourned and mourned ’til I come through,
Oh, rock-a my soul.

V. INSTRUMENTAL : THE PREGNANT EARTH

VI. SIT DOWN, SISTER
Oh, won’t you sit down? Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Oh won’t you sit down? Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Sit down, sister Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Cause I just got to heaven goin’ to look around.
Who’s that yonder dressed in red?
Must be the children that Moses led.
Who’s that yonder dressed in white?
Must be the children of the Israelite.
Oh, won’t you sit down? …
Who’s that yonder dressed in blue?
Must be the children that are coming through.
Who’s that yonder dressed in black?
Must be the hypocrites a-turnin’ back.
Oh, won’t you sit down?
Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Oh won’t you sit down?
Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Sit down, sister Lawd I can’t sit down.
I just got to heaven goin’ to look around.
Sit down, sister, Sit down, sister,
Sit down, sister,
Sit down!

VII. NOBODY KNOWS DE TROUBLE I SEE
Nobody knows de trouble I see
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see
Glory, glory hallelujah!
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I’m almost to de groun’
Oh, yes, Lord
Although you see me goin’ ’long so
Oh, yes, Lord
I have my trials here below
Oh, yes, Lord
Nobody knows de trouble I see.

VIII. GO DOWN MOSES
Go down Moses
way down in Egypt's land
Tell old Pharaoh
Let my people go.
Thus saith the Lord
bold Moses said
Let my people go
If not I'll smite your first-born dead
Let my people go.
Go down Moses
No more shall they in bondage toil
Let my people go
Let them come out with Egypt's spoil
Let my people go.

IX. SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way is from home
Do believe us
A long ways from home
Yes sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Why? 'Cause nothin' ever happens
Nothin'? Well nothin' good
So what's good? You know to have a ball man
You sick? No
Hungry? No man
I just had myself a whole mess of black eyed peas and rice
Long way, long way.

     

De piano in het werk van George Crumb, zorgvuldig versterkt, wordt zowel op de toetsen als aan in de snaren bespeeld: de piano wordt harp, klokkenspel, koto en vibrafoon. Samen met de klanken van vier percussionisten opent dit “extended pianospel” voor de luisteraar een wondere, haast desoriënterende wereld waarin alles heen en weer zweeft, echoot en splitst.

De muziek van Crumb is een beetje tonaal, een beetje modaal, en altijd op een delicate manier troebel. Ze roept beelden op van fictieve werelden, verdwenen herinneringen en vergeten rituelen. In zijn Songs of Despair and Hope bewerkt en harmoniseert de componist een reeks Afro-Amerikaanse spirituals.
     

   
GEORGE CRUMB
Songs of despair and hope

I. SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.
I looked over Jordan, and what did I see Comin’ for to carry me home?
A band of angels comin’ after me, Comin’ for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.
If you get there before I do, Comin’ for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I’m comin’ there too.
Comin’ for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.

II. JOSHUA FIT DE BATTLE OB JERICHO
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!
You kin talk about yo’ king of Gideon You can talk about yo’ men ob Saul But ere’s none like good ole Joshua At de battle ob Jericho. Dat mornin’
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!
Up to de walls od Jericho
Dey marched wid spear in han’
Go blow dem ram horns, Joshua cried, ’cause de battle am in my han’. Dat mornin’
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!

III. STEAL AWAY
Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, Oh steal away home!
I ain’t got long to stay here.
My Lord, calls me,
He calles me by the thunder!
The trumpet sounds within a my soul.
I ain’t got long to stay here.
Green trees a bendin’.
Poor sinner stands a tremblin’;
The trumpet sounds within a my soul,
I ain’t got long to stay here.
Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, Oh steal away home!
I ain’t got long to stay here.

IV. OH, A-ROCK-A MY SOUL
Oh, a-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
A-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
A-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
Oh, rock-a my soul.
When I went down in the valley to pray,
Oh, rock-a my soul,
My soul got happy an’ I stay’d all day,
Oh, rock-a-my soul.
When I was a mourner jes’ like you,
Oh, rock-a my soul,
I mourned and mourned ’til I come through,
Oh, rock-a my soul.

V. INSTRUMENTAL : THE PREGNANT EARTH

VI. SIT DOWN, SISTER
Oh, won’t you sit down? Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Oh won’t you sit down? Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Sit down, sister Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Cause I just got to heaven goin’ to look around.
Who’s that yonder dressed in red?
Must be the children that Moses led.
Who’s that yonder dressed in white?
Must be the children of the Israelite.
Oh, won’t you sit down? …
Who’s that yonder dressed in blue?
Must be the children that are coming through.
Who’s that yonder dressed in black?
Must be the hypocrites a-turnin’ back.
Oh, won’t you sit down?
Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Oh won’t you sit down?
Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Sit down, sister Lawd I can’t sit down.
I just got to heaven goin’ to look around.
Sit down, sister, Sit down, sister,
Sit down, sister,
Sit down!

VII. NOBODY KNOWS DE TROUBLE I SEE
Nobody knows de trouble I see
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see
Glory, glory hallelujah!
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I’m almost to de groun’
Oh, yes, Lord
Although you see me goin’ ’long so
Oh, yes, Lord
I have my trials here below
Oh, yes, Lord
Nobody knows de trouble I see.

VIII. GO DOWN MOSES
Go down Moses
way down in Egypt's land
Tell old Pharaoh
Let my people go.
Thus saith the Lord
bold Moses said
Let my people go
If not I'll smite your first-born dead
Let my people go.
Go down Moses
No more shall they in bondage toil
Let my people go
Let them come out with Egypt's spoil
Let my people go.

IX. SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way is from home
Do believe us
A long ways from home
Yes sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Why? 'Cause nothin' ever happens
Nothin'? Well nothin' good
So what's good? You know to have a ball man
You sick? No
Hungry? No man
I just had myself a whole mess of black eyed peas and rice
Long way, long way.

Le piano de George Crumb, amplifié par des microphones de proximité, se joue à l’intérieur de l’instrument autant que sur le clavier : il devient alors harpe, glockenspiel, koto, vibraphone. Mêlé aux sonorités résonnantes de quatre percussionnistes, ce « pianisme étendu » ouvre à l’auditeur un palais des miroirs où tout flotte, se réverbère et se dédouble. Un peu tonale, un peu modale, et toujours délicatement brouillée, la musique de Crumb évoque des mondes fictifs, des souvenirs engloutis, des rituels oubliés.

Le vaste corpus des American Songbooks de George Crumb constituent un ambitieux archivage de la culture étasunienne au travers de ses chansons. Dans les Songs of Despair and Hope, le compositeur arrange et harmonise une série de spirituals afro-américains.
    

   
GEORGE CRUMB
Songs of despair and hope

I. SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.
I looked over Jordan, and what did I see Comin’ for to carry me home?
A band of angels comin’ after me, Comin’ for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.
If you get there before I do, Comin’ for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I’m comin’ there too.
Comin’ for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin’ for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin’ for to carry me home.

II. JOSHUA FIT DE BATTLE OB JERICHO
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!
You kin talk about yo’ king of Gideon You can talk about yo’ men ob Saul But ere’s none like good ole Joshua At de battle ob Jericho. Dat mornin’
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!
Up to de walls od Jericho
Dey marched wid spear in han’
Go blow dem ram horns, Joshua cried, ’cause de battle am in my han’. Dat mornin’
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Jericho, Jericho
Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho An’ the walls come tumblin’ down!

III. STEAL AWAY
Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, Oh steal away home!
I ain’t got long to stay here.
My Lord, calls me,
He calles me by the thunder!
The trumpet sounds within a my soul.
I ain’t got long to stay here.
Green trees a bendin’.
Poor sinner stands a tremblin’;
The trumpet sounds within a my soul,
I ain’t got long to stay here.
Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, Oh steal away home!
I ain’t got long to stay here.

IV. OH, A-ROCK-A MY SOUL
Oh, a-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
A-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
A-rock-a my soul in de bosom of Abraham,
Oh, rock-a my soul.
When I went down in the valley to pray,
Oh, rock-a my soul,
My soul got happy an’ I stay’d all day,
Oh, rock-a-my soul.
When I was a mourner jes’ like you,
Oh, rock-a my soul,
I mourned and mourned ’til I come through,
Oh, rock-a my soul.

V. INSTRUMENTAL : THE PREGNANT EARTH

VI. SIT DOWN, SISTER
Oh, won’t you sit down? Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Oh won’t you sit down? Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Sit down, sister Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Cause I just got to heaven goin’ to look around.
Who’s that yonder dressed in red?
Must be the children that Moses led.
Who’s that yonder dressed in white?
Must be the children of the Israelite.
Oh, won’t you sit down? …
Who’s that yonder dressed in blue?
Must be the children that are coming through.
Who’s that yonder dressed in black?
Must be the hypocrites a-turnin’ back.
Oh, won’t you sit down?
Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Oh won’t you sit down?
Lawd, I can’t sit down.
Sit down, sister Lawd I can’t sit down.
I just got to heaven goin’ to look around.
Sit down, sister, Sit down, sister,
Sit down, sister,
Sit down!

VII. NOBODY KNOWS DE TROUBLE I SEE
Nobody knows de trouble I see
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows de trouble I see
Glory, glory hallelujah!
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I’m almost to de groun’
Oh, yes, Lord
Although you see me goin’ ’long so
Oh, yes, Lord
I have my trials here below
Oh, yes, Lord
Nobody knows de trouble I see.

VIII. GO DOWN MOSES
Go down Moses
way down in Egypt's land
Tell old Pharaoh
Let my people go.
Thus saith the Lord
bold Moses said
Let my people go
If not I'll smite your first-born dead
Let my people go.
Go down Moses
No more shall they in bondage toil
Let my people go
Let them come out with Egypt's spoil
Let my people go.

IX. SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way is from home
Do believe us
A long ways from home
Yes sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Why? 'Cause nothin' ever happens
Nothin'? Well nothin' good
So what's good? You know to have a ball man
You sick? No
Hungry? No man
I just had myself a whole mess of black eyed peas and rice
Long way, long way.

Agenda for this project

May 2016
  • Date Show Location
  • Wed 04.05 Songs of Despair and Hope Kazerne Dossin - Mechelen - Belgium

    Crumb : Songs of despair and hope

    George Crumb | Raquel Andueza | Georges-Elie Octors

    with Measha Brueggergosman, soprano read more
September 2017
  • Date Show Location
  • Mon 25.09 Songs of Despair and Hope (George Crumb) Brigittines Chapel - Brussels - Belgium

    Crumb : Songs of despair and hope

    with Measha Brueggergosman, soprano read more