Mother Earth Program Notes
Seule dans la forêt by Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
Vöglein by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Forest Bird by Katherine Hoover (1937-2018)
A Hermit Thrush at Morn by Amy Beach (1867-1944)
Visions of Dunbar by Robert Schultz (b. 1948)
Children of Light, No. 5 by Karen Tanaka (b. 1961)
Galapagos Land Iguana
Tides of Manaunaun by Henry Cowell (1897-1965)
Water Dance III by Karen Tanaka (b. 1961)
Meditation Prelude No. 4: Cumulus Humilus by Patrick Burke (b. 1974)
Sounds of a Fjord for piano and electronics by Kaja Bjørntvedt (b. 1981)
Pole Mountain Suite by Bonnie McLarty (b. 1983)
I. First Light
II. Old Happy Jack Trail
III. Mountain Stream
IV. Autumn Sky: Fog, Sunbreak, Last Light
Mirage by Elisenda Fábregas (b. 1955)
Rhythms of the North Country by Gwyneth Walker (b. 1947)
Together with Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric and Louis Drury, Germaine Taileferre was a member of the composer group Les Six. These composers collaborated in Montparnasse in the 1920s and their work communicates a simple purity, juxtaposed against the post Romantic excesses of Richard Wagner, and the blurred harmonic language of the impressionists. In some ways the Les Six composers echo the clean structure of Haydn and Mozart which followed the florid and polyphonic styles of the baroque period.
The miniature gem, Seule dans la forêt (“Walking Alone in the Forest”), sets the stage for the musical exploration of the natural world in Mother Earth. It’s not clear when the piece was written, but it was published in 1952 during a time when Tailleferre was ensconced in writing works of a much larger scope—two ballets, multiple operas, a musical comedy, at least five concerti, and several sonatas, in additional to a laundry list of film and television scores.
Considering that Taillefferre spent most of her life in the bustling urban environments of Paris and New York, she no doubt appreciated moments of solitude in nature. During the early 1920s she spent a good deal of time with Maurice Ravel at his home in Montfort-l'Amaury which is surrounded by beautiful forested areas. Perhaps her inspiration came from those excursions.
Against her father’s wishes, Tailleferre secretly entered the Paris Conservatory to study composition, winning first prizes in solfege, counterpoint, and fugue. To further establish her independence, and distance herself from her unsupportive father, she also changed her last name to Tailleferre (it had been Taillefesse before). For some added perspective, it is worthy to note that her father had forced her to cut off an engagement with a man she loved in order for her to marry a young suitor named Arthur Taillefesse—ostensibly for the simple reason that he had the same surname! The marriage was short-lived, as were several later marriages.