Three Pushkin Songs

for vocal ensemble, originally a pre-recorded soundtrack (2007-10, 7')

first performances:
De nachtegaal en de roos: June 3rd 2007, Het Kruithuis ’s-Hertogenbosch, by Arnold Marinissen & soundtrack
Een laatste bloem: June 30th 2007 Aqua Musica Festival Amsterdam, by Arnold Marinissen & soundtrack
De Druiventros: February 19th 2010, Muziekcentrum Vredenburg Utrecht, by Calefax & Arnold Marinissen

In June 2007, mezzo-soprano Margriet van Reisen and Arnold Marinissen premiered PRRRRRAAT! (TAAAAALK!), a music theatre production about the disability to communicate, in which poems by Alexander Pushkin played an important role. For this occasion, Marinissen set Pushkin’s poem De nachtegaal en de roos (The nightingale and the rose) to music. This song was the start of a short cycle of Pushkin songs. Een laatste bloem (A last flower) was added later that month. De druiventros (The bunch of grapes) was written in August 2007, on request of Romain Bischoff, for Compagnie Bischoff.

All three songs feature a solo singer who lyrically proclaims Pushkin’s poem, exploring all corners of his or her ambitus. The other voices provide a relatively steady harmonic and rhythmic framework, thus steering the listener’s full attention to the solo voice and the content of the poem.
All three songs deal with flowers, in different seasons.

The first song focuses on a nightingale which sits on a rose in full bloom, singing delightfully in a dark spring night. The rose however has no hearing; the nightingale’s song is fully lost on the rose... Pushkin makes a comparison with a poet who writes a beautiful poem that will not at all be understood by the beloved girl.

In the second song, the writer reflects on the roses that are now faded in autumn. He actually prefers the bunch of grapes, the ranks of which are like the slender fingers of a young girl.

In the last song, the autumn turns to winter, when a last flower is dearer to the writer than the opulence of flowers in the early springtime. Similarly, a goodbye is sometimes sweeter than a first meeting...

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