In Evening’s Shadow for soprano, guitar, violin, viola, violoncello

(2007) 18'

Private commission in memory of Peter Segal
Recorded on Albany Records (Troy 1317)

Program note

In Evening’s Shadow was commissioned by guitarist Peter Segal before his death from cancer in January 2006. His request was that the work serve as his memorial and that it include Purcell’s famous aria “When I am laid in earth” in some way. Before his passing Segal shared his thoughts on various aspects of the proposed work such as instrumentation, possible performers, length of the work, and especially the choice of poetry. The text that was eventually created, with the gracious assistance of writer Jack DeWitt, consists of an opening “prologue” (Salvatore Quasimodo, in translation from Italian) followed by lines from Theodore Roethke’s poetry that are arranged as a cento, i.e. a pastiche poem made up of excerpts from various poems. Together, the text comprises four “movements” that follow one another without pause:

I. Everyone stands alone…
II. In a dark time…
III. I see you, love, ….
IV. Who but the loved…

Musically, Purcell’s aria is the basis of the entire work. Motivic material from the aria begins the work and as the piece progresses phrases emerge more clearly on a surface level; the aria, however, is never stated in its original form per se. Knowledge of the original aria, therefore, can significantly inform a hearing of this work. The original text of the aria, so important to Segal, is as follows:

When I am laid in earth.
May my wrongs create
No trouble in thy breast.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

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