Year Composed 2009
Duration 20 Minutes
Orchestration contratenore, string quartet and electronics
Availability contact composer
Original performer Rubens Quartett
Part of the CD Seven Sonnets with Rubens String Quartett and Arnon Zlotnik
The timeless echoes of love in the works of William Shakespeare have cultured the globe for centuries. With Seven Sonnets, composer Katarina Glowicka has tapped the endless wellspring of the scribe’s Sonnets of 1609. Shakespeare’s penetrating insights on love are at times transcendent, endearing and others, heart wrenching. Glowicka’s compositional interpretations traverse this dynamic spectrum of emotion, giving Shakespeare’s words the musical justice they deserve.
Composed for quartet and countertenor, with Glowicka’s trademark technological infusion, the 50-minute song cycle unfolds an evocative journey. Nearly 400 years after the sonnets’ creation, the young composer adapted 3 of the poems into Summer’s Day in 1999. She then expanded the set with 4 more selections a decade later. The experience is yours to relish now, with the full effort compiled in this album – 4 centuries in the making.
“When my love swears”
A voice, as if reborn, emerges to open this sonnet that speaks of love unconditional to a fault. In itself, the composition embodies something of a paradigm shift, as both complex musical evolution, and as the intimate revelation in the poem. Equally, it is a symbolic revelation for a composer who uses a torch of classical structure to illuminate the towering potential of orchestrated electronics.
The digitized touches in Glowicka’s sonnet never invade or possess the fleshy soul of voice and quartet. It acts more as a conduit of musical truth, electrifying the body of the composition. Within the sonnet’s false declarations of love, the trembling of the electronic bell calls forth the truth. The subtle layers of modulation transcend us from falsity, to truth. For this sonnet’s lovers, their lies to each other are the comforts that become truth.
“Love is Too Young”
Within this sonnet’s archetypal love lesson, we again experience a transcendent moment where voice and strings morph electronically. The violin’s gliding bows evoke emotional growing pains that give way to the sonnet’s epiphany. Young love is ignorant of conscience, yet conscience itself is born from love. This theme is a vocalized with clarity, lifting the strings from their crawl to a soar.
The repeating phrase of the strings in the sonnet is in time mirrored by the voice. Therein, is the transcendence of the sonnet’s personal revelation: transferring the growing pains of youthful love into poetic wisdom. It is the changing nature of fleeting passion into a love worthy of integrity. This moment is blissfully captured in the sounds of synthetic chimes, quietly clamoring to rise above the instruments. Just as such as revelation liberates lovers from the shackles of bliss, the sonnet’s climax evolves onto a sonic plane where anything is possible.
The rhythmic, driving strings of this sonnet, regarding love’s insatiable appetite, outrun a thoughtfully paced vocalist. Yet, when the driving strings are matched by buoyancy in the voice, the culmination is thrilling. So goes the lustful cravings of love: elated together, always in chase, and all the more desirable in absence. How long can we train the mind to comprehend the rapturous turbulence of love’s sweet ride? This dizzying notion is the thrill of Glowicka’s frenetic approach to this sonnet.
Frantic climbs of the strings scale unwaveringly, but freeze with the inconsolable cravings Shakespeare reveals. Still, the voice strives to outwit the strings, lyrically proclaiming an almost unreachable harmony between reason and emotion. The music, like Shakespeare, is still hopefully in that love is a force that gives chase to renew the body, mind and spirit.
Compositionally ambitious, “All Naked” is resolute in its tones that we have arrived from this musical journey. The strings softly herald this arrival, before an influx of synthesized washes buzz within an echo chamber of poetic lines. The piece is stripped down to bare, elemental moments and then whirled up again in decorative electronics.
We are left vulnerable within the soundscape of Glowicka’s fantastical realm. The sonnet itself carries a biblical tone, elevating professed love to a godly status. This can be interpreted in Glowicka’s transcendent arrangement, where this singular voice is liberated from the body of the quartet by technology. Glowicka, like Shakespeare, leaves us in exquisite ambiguity, at peace whether we have met our end or reached a new beginning. Perhaps it is here in this paradox, in thy soul’s thought, all naked, that we are truly free to love.