Plundered Hearts

Plundered Hearts, two songs for baritone and piano, (2002) dur. 14-15 minutes, poems by J. D. McClatchy, written for Thomas Meglioranza, commissioned by Rochana Muenthongchin for Concert Artists Guild and written for Thomas Meglioranza, with additional support from Bradford and Dorothea Endicott and Heidrun Rotterdam.

Performances: Weill Hall, New York City, April 15, 2003; Grinnell, Iowa, April 19, 2003
Poughkeepsie, NY, October 5, 2003; Aspen Music Festival, Aug. 7, 2003, Ryan McKinney & Tomoko Uchino
Beacon, NY, Oct. 5, 2003, Meglioranza & Chang; Rockefeller University, NY, Jan. 30, 2004, Meglioranza & Chang
Thalia, Symphony Space, NY, Feb. 9, 2006, Meglioranza & Reiko Uchida


Program Notes

I first read “Fado” in the New England Review and its passionate, over-the-top emotions instantly suggested music. I wrote the poet J. D. McClatchy telling him so and he sent me what he considered a partner poem, “Pibroch,” both of which were soon to be published in a collection titled Hazmat. I asked the poet about the titles and he said they were no more than suggestive. I did a little research, listening to some fados and pibrochs. Fados seemed to me not so much a musical form or language so much as a mood, a “Portuguese blues,” as I read somewhere. The pibroch is Scottish and has both a defined mood and musical form. It is a lament, and can be very grand funeral music. However, it seemed to me that both fados and pibrochs were to a great extent associated above all else with a representative instrument: the guitar in fados, and bagpipes in pibrochs. I was writing for the piano, which has so often served as a stand-in and thereby turned folk musics into “art.” I decided the titles would be no more than suggestive to me as well, and went about setting the poems, allowing them to inspire the music, although “Pibroch” more closely imitates the model.

I also knew I was writing these songs for Thomas Meglioranza, whom I had heard and seen perform, and whose musical intelligence, interpretive brilliance and superb diction put across the songs he sang with urgent immediacy and impressed me; I was extremely pleased to be writing for him and his partner at the piano, Hsi-Ling Chang. These two performed the premiere of “Plundered Hearts” on April 15, 2003 at Weill Recital Hall in New York City.