Ensemble Type: Soprano Voice/Alto Sax/Piano
Grade Level: Advanced
Three Dawn Songs in Summer is a work that is, essentially, two separate pieces.
The first is a flowing dialogue between saxophone and piano. Gentle and translucent, the dialogue builds to a saxophone cadenza before fading away.
With the entrance of the voice we are brought to the second piece, a more austere landscape. The first impression of this landscape is static, where harmonic movement is subtle and understated.
The two first songs continue this alternation between the voice and saxophone. At the advent of the third song, the alternations become more frequent, and the timbre between the saxophone and voice becomes harder to distinguish. As the parts become more connected, they begin to follow one another through their respective landscapes, finally ending with a complete fusion of the two.
In many ways, the saxophone “interludes” seem to offer us a textless version of the poem; from the way the rhythmic character seems young and carefree, to the way in which the melody unravels, awakening “the visible” with its color and light.
Three Dawn Songs in Summer was written November/December 2012 in Montreal.
Poetry by Robert Hass, from his Pulitzer Prize Winning Collection: Time and Materials Poems 1997 – 2005 (Used with consent of the author)
Three Dawn Songs in Summer
The first long shadows in the fields
Are like mortal difficulty.
The first birdsong is not like that at all.
The light in summer is very young and wholly unsupervised.
No one has made it sit down to breakfast.
It’s the first one up, the first one out.
As he has opened his eyes, he must be light
And she, sleeping beside him, must be the visible,
One ringlet of hair curled about her ear.
Into which he whispers, “Wake up!”