Three Nocturnes

Three Nocturnes for Cello and Piano, (1997) ca. 12 min. Premiered in Salisbury, Vermont on July 10, 1998; also at Derby Line, Vt. July 31, 1998; Middlebury, Vt. Oct. 4, 1998; Burlington Oct. 17, 1999; Rutland, Vt. March 16, 2001 with Dieuwke Davydov, cello, and Diana Fanning, piano; also: March-April 2001: Davydov-Fanning duo tour of Europe, seven cities; April 22, 2001 in Randolph, Vt. (and other performances)
May 5, 2001 Yehuda Hanani, cello and Stephen Prutsman, piano, Close Encounters with Music presents, Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood; January 6, 2003 Mark Shuman, cello and Todd Crow, piano at the Kosciuszko Foundation, NYC

“Three Nocturnes”
1. arr. for violin and piano
2. arr. for viola and piano
3. arr. for clarinet and piano

With Eric Mandat, clarinet and Jeanne Golan, piano: Oct. 25, 2006 Vancouver, CA; March 4, 2007 Summit NJ; March 6, 2007 SUNY Nassau, NY; Sept. 30, 2007 at Columbus State University in Georgia; Oct. 3, 2007 at the University of Florida at Tallahassee; Oct. 5, 2007 at the University of North Florida at Jacksonville

Recorded on Albany Troy 1279. “Cello Music of Jorge Martin”

 

Program Notes

The first and the third Nocturnes are based on songs from a cycle for baritone and string quartet that I had written long ago, on poems in German by H. Heine. In truth, the history is more convoluted: the first phrase of the first Nocturne was actually an exercise I’d written in college, and later, when I set about setting the line “Ich möchte weinen, doch ich kann es nicht,” (“I want to cry, but I cannot”) I remembered this musical phrase, and found that it fit the words uncannily! So I went on from there setting the poem, which had to do with unattainable love. Eventually I took only the first half of the resulting song and rounded it off to form the first Nocturne.

The third came from the same set, but this music too had found many different forms — setting different poems — until one day, many years later, I realized it could stand by itself without words. The Heine poem began “Oben wo die Sterne glühen” (“Up there where the stars shine”) and had to do with longing for a better world. This Nocturne was the original inspiration for the set; this was the bit of music that I really wanted to “salvage” and around which I formed the set. I then wrote the first and realized there needed to be a third to make a viable set.

Since I had no other song I cared to rework, I wrote the second Nocturne “from scratch” to separate the other two, and to form a contrast with them. At the time I had one of my favorite pieces of music, Schumann’s Piano Fantasy Op. 17, on my mind, which itself is based on music from a song cycle by Beethoven, “An die Ferne Geliebte” (“To the Distant Beloved”). So indirectly it too is based on vocal music, and all three ultimately are rooted in longing: for a beloved, a better world, happiness.