Tara Rosenberger Shankar,
mezzo-soprano
with
Charles Shadle, piano and harpsichord
Mea Cook, violoncello
 
 

'Ho fuggito Amore', HWV 118     G. F. Handel (1739-1759)
Charles Shadle, harpsichord
Mea Cook, continuo
 

La Bonne Chanson, op. 61      Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

I. Une Sainte en son auréole
II. Puisque l’aube grandit
III. La lune blanche luit dans les bois
IV. J’allais des chemins perfides
V. J’ai presque peur, en vérité
VI. Avante que tu ne t’en ailles
VII. Donc, ce sera par un clair jour d’été
VIII. N’est-ce pas?
IX. L’Hiver a cessé

Charles Shadle, piano
 

Beloved, Thou Hast Brought Me Many Flowers   Libby Larsen (born 1950)
I. Beloved, Thou Hast Brought Me Many Flowers
II. Liebeslied
III. Do You Know
IV. White World
V. Music, When Soft Voices Die
VI. Go From Me

Charles Shadle, piano
Mea Cook, violoncello






Tara Rosenberger Shankar is a doctoral student at the M.I.T. Media Laboratory, working on new kinds of writing forms and technologies. She has soloed with the MIT orchestra, Chamber and Concert Choirs, and numerous MIT chamber music groups. She participated in Donna Roll’s 1999 Summer Opera Workshop for Young Singers and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Summer Intensive Opera Workshops from 1990 to 1993. She has studied vocal technique with Margaret O’Keefe, Nina Hinson, and David Falk. She is the recipient of MIT’s Emerson Music Scholarship from 1996 through 2000, and MIT’s Advanced Music Performance Scholarship in 2001.
 
 
 
I am pleased to perform 'Ho fuggito Amore' from MIT Professor Ellen Harris's newly edited collection of Handel’s cantatas. 'Ho fuggito Amore' is one of 199 cantatas written for performance by one of the very popular castrati of the day.
Ho fuggito Amor
poetry by Paolo Rolli (London, ca. 1720)

Ho fuggito Amor anch’io,
Ho spezzato I lacci suoi: Ma che poi?
Son tornato in servitù.
E che pensi far, cor mio?
I passati tuoi tormenti,
Non rammenti?
No, non li rammenti più.

La dolce libertà,
Tanto bramata un tempo,
O rnon t’aggrada più, Folle mio core?
Sai pur quanto periglio,
Quante amarezze Ad incontrar tu vai?
Povero cor, lo sai?
Delle false speranze, Della tradita fede,
Ancor non hai Prova certa o bastante?
Parlo in van; tu rispondi: Ahi! Sono amante.

È troppo bella, Troppo amorosa,
La pastorella, Che t’invaghì.
Mio cor, sì, sì, Torna ad amare.
Di quelle vaghe Pupille nere,
Le dolci piaghe, Fuggir chi può?
Tu non Puoi, no, no, Son troppo care.


 

I too have fled from Love,
I have broken its bonds: But what then?
I have returned into bondage.
And what do you think you are doing, O my heart?
Do you not remember
Your past torments?
No, you remember them no longer.

Does sweet liberty,
Once so longed for,
No longer please you, My foolish heart?
Do you know how much danger,
How much bitterness You are going to meet?
Poor heart, do you know?
Of the false hopes, Of the betrayed trust,
Do you not yet have Certain and sufficient proof?
I speak in vain; you respond: Alas, I am in love.

She is too beautiful, Too loving,
The sheperdess, Who has charmed you.
Yes, yes, my heart, Return again to love.
Who can flee The sweet wounds
Of those lovely Dark eyes?
You cannot, no, no, They are too dear.


 
Faure wrote La bonne chanson while in the throes of an intimacy with Emma Bardoc, an inspired singer, and future wife of Claude Debussy. Faure relates, “I’ve never written anything as spontaneously as I did La bonne Chanson I may say, indeed I must, that I was helped by a similar degree of comprehension of the part of the singer who was to remain its most moving interpreter. The pleasure of feeling those little sheets of paper come alive as I brought them to her was one I have never experienced since.” Her role in the formation of the songs was more than inspirational, however, as one of Faure’s students recounts, Emma would often send Faure back to the drawing board to make changes.

Paul Verlaine’s poetry tells a youthful story of finding true love. Songs 3, 6, and 9 are often thought of as word paintings, the remaining songs in some way advance the love story. Faure chose this poetry because the sounds of the words in the mouth, rather than metaphoric imagery or meaning, are malleable material for his music. Faure said, “I seek above all to extricate the general feeling of a poem, rather than to concentrate on its details.” As such, La bonne chansonmoves through unusual key changes and harmonies without fanfare or premonition, yet in each change a different feeling and color emerges, soon to be tucked away as a new texture blooms.

La Bonne Chanson, 1870
poetry by Paul Verlaine
translated poetically from French to English
 1.
A Saint in her bright halo,
A chatelaine in her tower;
All that the human word may know
Of grace and love’s sweet power.

The note of golden splendor
Of a horn in woodland ways,
Linked with pride, deep and tender,
Of queens of other days.

With this the glowin gsense
Of triumph when she smiled;
The blush-the swan-like innocence-
Half woman and half child.

Face pearl and pink, that brings
To mind some fair patrician dame:
I see, I hear all these proud things
In her Carlovingian name.
 

2.
Since dawn awoke and sunrise now is here,
Since having flown so logn hope turns at last
And files toward me who called through all the year;
Since all this joy is mine, and sorrow past, --

O let me now forget the bitter thought,
The evil dreams, be they forever gone.
The irony my socrnful lips had caught,
The cruel words my spriit dwelt upon.

Away with fist tight-clenched and anger’s sway
That rose against the fools we daily pass;
Away with spite abominable-away
Forgetfulness found in the fateful glass!

For ‘its my wish – now that a Soul of light
Has in my night profound thrown its soft rays
Of early love, immortal as ‘tis bright,
By favor of her smiles and graceful ways, -
It is my wish, such light her fair eye hath,
But to be led by her, what e’er forebodes;
To walk upright along the mossy path
When rocks and gravel strew the beaten roads.
 

3.
The white moon
Shines in the wood;
From each branch
Comes a voice
Under the boughs…

O well-beloved.

The pool reflects,
Profound mirror,
The silhouette
Of the black willow
Where the wind weeps…

Dream on, this is the hour.

A vast and tender
Peacefulness
Seems to descend
From the firmament
That a star tints…

This is the exquisite hour.
 

4.
I went by paths where danger hides,
Uncertain windings, far withdrawn;
But your dear hands were my sole guides.

If o’er the eastern sky was drawn
One feeble glow of coming day,
Your glance made morning of the dawn.

No noise to cheer the traveler’s way,
Save his slow footsteps, sounding far.
Your voice said: “Courage – and away.”

My fearful heart no longer gay
Wept with me on the road, alas!
But love, delicious vanquisher,

Our joyful meeting brought to pass.
 

5.
Almost I fear, if truth be said,
So much my life becomes enlaced
With that all radiant thought that graced
My soul, the summer that has fled;

So fast your image, dear, I won,
Lives in this heart that’s all for you;
My heart uniquely jealous, too,
To love and please but you alone.

Grant me your pardon, if in awe,
I frankly speak as though you heard,
To think that but a smile – a word
From you henceforth must be my law;

That it sufficeth but a sign,
A word, a trembling of an eye,
To put my joy forever by,
Take my illusions so divine.

And still I would not see thee, thence-
The future is too somber hued,
With pains all numberless imbued,
Yet, ever through a hope immense,

Plunged in a joy supremely due,
I say again and always say,
In spite of every mournful way:
That I love you – that I love you!
 

6.
Before thou takest flight, pale
Star of dawn sublime,
--A thousand quail
Singing, singing in the thyme.

Turn toward the poet, mark
His eyes how full of love;
--The lark
Mounts to the sky above.

Turn, thy loving glance employ,
It drowns the dawn in blue;
--What joy
Amidst the ripe wheat wet with dew!

And make my thoughts to shine
Yonder, O far away!
--How fine
The dew that glistens on the hay.

In the sweet troubled dream, so chaste
Of my dear sleeping one…
--Haste, haste,
For here’s the golden sun.
 

7.
So, it shall be a day of summer, dear,
The glowing sun, accomplice of my joy,
His rays, ‘mid silks and satin, will employ
To make your beauty still more rare, more clear

The far blue sky outspread like some high tent,
Shall tremble sumptuously in lengthening folds
Above our happy brows whose pallor holds
Expectancy, with joy and gladness blent.

And when the evening comes with its sweet air
That loves to play, caressing, in your veils,
The peaceful stars that rise above the dales
Will smile upon the happy wedded pair.
 

8.
Is it not so? Despite what others say,
Who merely envy us our present joys,
We two will go with humble pride our way.

Is it not so? We take the modest path,
Happy and slow, that smiling Hope employs,
Unmindful of the ways the cold world hath.

Lost in our love, as in some leafy dell,
Our hearts will be in their deep tenderness
Two nightingales that sing the day farewell.

As for the World, though it be fair or dark,
What matters it? Perhaps it may caress,
Perhaps in harming take us for the mark.

And thus united by the this most dear,
Clad in an armor that can all with stand,
We two shall smile and, smiling, nothing fear.

Unmindful save of what the Fates bestow,
We two shall walk our pathway hand in hand,
With that high hope and youthful soul aglow

Of those who truly love – is it not so?
 

9.
Winter has gone: the balmy light indeed
Dances, from earth unto the heavens clear.
Oh! Well may the heart the most sad accede
To the immense joy scattered in the air.

Even this Paris wearisome and ill,
Seems to acclaim the young suns that unfold,
And with a mighty welcome’s joyous thrill
Extends a thousand arms from roofs of gold.

I’ve had, a year, the springtime in my soul,
This green return of flowers so sweet to feel,
As though a flame about a flame might roll,
Has put for me ideal on ideal.

The blue sky is more vast and high, and crown
The air immutable where laughs my love;
How all is far and how my path abounds
With hopes that have their turn – hopes born above.

Let summer come, and autumn that awaits
Winter’s return! Each season in its way
Will charming be, O Thou who decorates
The fantasy and motive of the lay!


 
 
Libby Larsen is one of America’s most prolific and most performed living composers. Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers, commissioned by Hella Mears Hueg for her husband Bill on his 70th birthday, is about a mature love, music, nature and flowers. Contrasting with the Faure songs in yet another way also, this song cycle uses poetry from many different poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Rainer Maria Rilke, H.D., and Percy Byssh Shelley, rather than a single poet. Larsen’s energy and intellect is only surpassed by her curiosity and emotional investment in her music. Her music always poses a challenge to the performer, for in some way Larsen’s music will require some feat of athleticism or composure. These songs were premiered on 22 May 1994.
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861: XLIV. from Poetical works (1897)

1    Belovèd, thou hast brought me many flowers 
2    Plucked in the garden, all the summer through 
3    And winter, and it seemed as if they grew
4    In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers. 
5    So, in the like name of that love of ours, 
6    Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too, 
7    And which on warm and cold days I withdrew 
8    From my heart's ground. Indeed, those beds and bowers 
9    Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue, 
10    And wait thy weeding; yet here's eglantine, 
11    Here's ivy!---take them, as I used to do 
12    Thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine. 
13    Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true, 
14    And tell thy soul their roots are left in mine.
 

Rilke, Rainer Maria, ‘Liebeslied’
trans. H.S. Herter Norton, From Translations from the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1938, 1966.

How shall I withhold my soul 
so that it does not touch on yours?
How shall I uplift it over yours to other things?
Ah, willingly would I by some lost thing in the dark
Give it harbor in an unfamiliar, silent place
That does not vibrate on when your depths vibrate.
Yet, everything that touches us, you and me,
Takes us together as a bow’s stroke does, 
That out of two strings draws a single voice.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what player has us in his hand? 
O sweet song.
 

Rilke, Rainer Maria, ‘Do You Know’
trans. H.S. Herter Norton, from Translations from the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1938, 1966.

Do you know, 
I would quietly slip 
from the loud circle,
When first I know 
the pale stars are blooming.
Ways will I elect 
that seldom any tread, 
In the pale ev’ning meadows.
Do you know?
And no dream but this:
You come too.
 

H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), 1886-1961: 'White World' 
from Collected Poems 1912-1944

1            The whole white world is ours, 
2            and the world, purple with rose-bays, 
3            bays, bush on bush, 
4            group, thicket, hedge and tree, 
5            dark islands in a sea 
6            of gray-green olive or wild white-olive, 
7            cut with the sudden cypress shafts, 
8            in clusters, two or three, 
9            or with one slender, single cypress-tree. 

10          Slid from the hill, 
11          as crumbling snow-peaks slide, 
12          citron on citron fill 
13          the valley, and delight 
14          waits till our spirits tire 
15          of forest, grove and bush 
16          and purple flower of the laurel-tree. 
(song ends here.)

17          Yet not one wearies, 
18          joined is each to each 
19          in happiness complete 
20          with bush and flower: 
21          ours is the wind-breath 
22          at the hot noon-hour, 
23          ours is the bee's soft belly 
24          and the blush of the rose-petal, 
25          lifted, of the flower.
 

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 1792-1822: 'Music, when soft voices die'
from Miscellanies and Collections, 1750-1900:The Golden Treasury (1891-1897)

1    Music, when soft voices die, 
2    Vibrates in the memory--- 
3    Odours, when sweet violets sicken, 
4    Live within the sense they quicken. 

5    Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, 
6    Are heap'd for the beloved's bed; 
7    And so thy thoughts, when Thou art gone, 
8    Love itself shall slumber on.
 

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861: VI. 'Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand' 
from Poetical works (1897)

1    Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand 
2    Henceforward in thy shadow. Nevermore 
3    Alone upon the threshold of my door 
4    Of individual life, I shall command 
5    The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand 
6    Serenely in the sunshine as before, 
7    Without the sense of that which I forbore--- 
8    Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
9    Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine 
10    With pulses that beat double. What I do 
11    And what I dream include thee, as the wine 
12    Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue 
13    God for myself, He hears that name of thine, 
14    And sees within my eyes the tears of two.