for unaccompanied solo soprano
Immediately after finishing my large choral piece A Native Hill (August 29) I decided to continue composing vocal music and to complete the short vocal pieces that rework those in the collection of 12th century manuscripts – the Laude Cortonese. There were six of these mediaeval originals that I had not set – I started writing them in 2002 – and I decided to write the last ones in the same way as I had composed the first ones: for unaccompanied solo voice, and with each piece taking no more than an hour to write.
As always I treat the original laude with respect. I adhere as far as possible to the same number of notes to a syllable that are in the mediaeval versions, frequently following the melodic contours and even quoting individual phrases. Writing them can serve as a diversion from whatever else I am writing at the time (madrigals, operas, choral works, concertos).
I relish the challenge of writing something so exposed, so naked and unadorned, where I cannot hide behind, say, a skilfully orchestrated accompaniment – like a painter who has hitherto had the luxury of painting massive canvases with dense oils, being obliged to work in pen and ink, in black and white, on a simple piece of paper, like a Zen artist, and refusing the possibility of revision or correction.
The first solo laude were written for Anna Maria Friman, with whom I have worked for over 18 years. The last group, number 48-53, were written for the Canadian early music soprano Rebecca Genge.