Release Date: January 24, 2020
Catalog #: NV6263
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Vocal Music

Summer’s Distillation

Joseph Summer composer

With SUMMER’S DISTILLATION, Joseph Summer, as composer, offers a new look at the timeless texts credited to William Shakespeare. As artistic director, Summer presents settings by Brahms, R. Schumann, and Benjamin Pesetsky, curating an overall impressive collection of works for voice, harp, and horns.

Sonnets V and VI for voice, horns, and harp is raw and unfiltered—in a complex tonal language which illuminates stark text is the foreground. Sonnet CIV is an art song for mezzo soprano wherein the harp accompaniment plays the role of a lute or acoustic guitar. It is simultaneously heavy and graceful. Sonnet XCI for voice and horns, on the other hand, is regal and declamatory. Sonnet LXXIII for vocal ensemble, harp, and horns paints a dark forest scene—a cacophony of textures as soloists take turns, yet no voice or instrument is background. Finally, Sonnet CXXXIII, a duet for tenor and soprano against the scene painting of harp and horns, is a complaint about the interminably long delay between Summer’s proclamation of adoration for his (eventual) wife, Lisa Summer, and her prorogued agreement to accept his offer of love.

If by Your Art from The Tempest is a through-composed soprano aria with atmospheric harp accompaniment. The harp’s echoed scale fragments guide the thoughts of the actress—starting in pain and finishing in sweet respite. O God, That I Were a Man from All’s Well That Ends Well is a monologue running the gamut of emotions, from “I would eat his heart in the marketplace” to “she is undone.” This is balanced by music of centuries later, with Robert Schumann’s Drei Gesänge (Three Songs), Op.95, for soloist and harp, presenting settings of texts by Karl Julius Körner and three of the Hebrew Melodies by Lord Byron. Some of the highest inspiration for this album is Brahms’ Vier Gesänge, Op.17. Upon hearing it the first time, Summer recounts: “I experienced the music as a transcendent epiphany. It changed the course of my life.” It is extraordinary indeed, and Summer’s ensemble justifiably gives it life.

SUMMER’S DISTILLATION concludes with Answer and Question from All’s Well That Ends Well by Boston-based composer and writer Benjamin Pesetsky, commissioned by Summer for this collection of works. This work both serves to aptly round off the piece and leave listeners wanting more.


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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Sonnet No. 5 - Sonnet No. 6 Joseph Summer Jennifer Sgroe, Jessica Lennick, Thea Lobo, Sophie Michaux, Neal Ferreira - voices; Franziska Huhn, harp; Kevin Owen, Josh Michal - horn 5:03
02 Sonnet No. 104 Joseph Summer Sophie Michaux, mezzo soprano; Franziska Huhn, harp 3:49
03 Sonnet No. 91 Joseph Summer Neal Ferreira, tenor; Kevin Owen, Josh Michal - horns 3:09
04 Sonnet No. 73 Joseph Summer Jessica Lennick, Jennifer Sgroe, Thea Lobo, Sophie Michaux, Neal Ferreira - voices; Franziska Huhn, harp; Josh Michal, Kevin Owen - horns 3:39
05 Sonnet No. 133 Joseph Summer Jessica Lennick, soprano; Neal Ferreira, tenor; Franziska Huhn, harp; Kevin Owen, Josh Michal - horns 8:44
06 The Tempest: If By Your Art Joseph Summer Jessica Lennick, soprano; Franziska Huhn, harp 6:43
07 O God, That I Were a Man Joseph Summer Thea Lobo, mezzo soprano; Kevin Owen, horn 3:35
08 3 Gesänge, Op. 95 (Arr. for Harp & Voice): No. 1, Die Tochter Jephtas Robert Schumann Jennifer Sgroe, soprano; Franziska Huhn, harp 2:29
09 3 Gesänge, Op. 95 (Arr. for Harp & Voice): No. 2, An den Mond Robert Schumann Jennifer Sgroe, soprano; Franziska Huhn, harp 2:10
10 3 Gesänge, Op. 95 (Arr. for Harp & Voice): No. 3, Dem Helden Robert Schumann Jennifer Sgroe, soprano; Franziska Huhn, harp 2:32
11 4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 1, Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang Johannes Brahms Jessica Lennick, Jennifer Sgroe, Sophie Michaux, Thea Lobo - voices; Franziska Huhn, harp; Josh Michal, Kevin Owen - horns 3:15
12 4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 2, Lied von Shakespeare Johannes Brahms Jessica Lennick, Jennifer Sgroe, Sophie Michaux, Thea Lobo - voices; Franziska Huhn, harp; Josh Michal, Kevin Owen - horns 2:02
13 4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 3, Der Gärtner Johannes Brahms Jessica Lennick, Jennifer Sgroe, Sophie Michaux, Thea Lobo - voices; Franziska Huhn, harp; Josh Michal, Kevin Owen - horns 3:36
14 4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 4, Gesang aus Fingal Johannes Brahms Jessica Lennick, Jennifer Sgroe, Sophie Michaux, Thea Lobo - voices; Franziska Huhn, harp; Josh Michal, Kevin Owen - horns 4:58
15 Answer and Question Benjamin Pesetsky Jennifer Sgroe, Jessica Lennick, Thea Lobo - voices; Franziska Huhn, harp; Josh Michal, Kevin Owen - horns 6:25

Drei Gesänge, Op.95
Text by Karl Julius Körner; based on three of the Hebrew Melodies by Lord Byron

4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 1, Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang
Text by Friedrich Ruperti

4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 2, Lied von Shakespeare
Text by August Wilhelm Schlegel

4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 3, Der Gärtner
Text by Josef Karl Benedikt von Eichendorff

4 Gesänge, Op. 17 (Version with Harp): No. 4, Gesang aus Fingal
Anonymous translation of Ossian (James MacPherson)

All pieces recorded April 10-11, 2017 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester MA, except for Track 7, which was recorded September 30, 2015 in the same location.
Music Director & Conductor Tim Ribchester
Recording Engineer Joseph Chilorio
Producer Joseph Summer

This recording was made possible by a generous grant from the Mattina R. Proctor Foundation.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Joseph Summer


Joseph Summer began playing French horn at the age of 7. While attending the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina at age 14 he studied composition with the eminent Czech composer Karel Husa. At age 15 he was accepted at Oberlin Conservatory, studied with Richard Hoffmann, Schönberg’s amanuensis, and graduated with a B.M. in Music Composition in 1976. Recruited by Robert Page, Dean of the Music Department at Carnegie Mellon University, Summer taught music theory at CMU before leaving to pursue composition full time.

Jessica Lennick


JESSICA LENNICK “is a complete package, including a terrific smile and stage presence to go along with her pleasing voice,” according to The Baltimore Examiner.  She has used these qualities to great effect on the opera stage, singing for Washington Camerata of DC, Chesapeake Chamber Opera, and Center City Opera Theater, among others.

She was an Annapolis Opera Competition finalist and Great Lakes Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan National Council Auditions.   She covered the role of Giulietta at the Caramoor Festival, where she also appeared as soprano soloist with Roberto Abbado and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in Midsummer Night’s Dream. A frequent performer of new music, Ms. Lennick has premiered many pieces, notably Tesla’s Pigeon (Dunphy), Mark the Music (Smith), A Weeping Woman (Solitro), Under the Harvest Moon (Runestad), and Honor, Riches, Marriage, Blessing (Summer) the last of which she has recorded for Navona Records.  About the latter, the American Record Guide said, “As Iris, Jessica Lennick’s stratospheric singing is stunning; she tosses off gleaming high E-flats and Fs.”  Continuing her collaboration with Joseph Summer, she premiered the role of Iris in The Tempest in April 2015 and recorded it for Albany Records about which Fanfare Magazine said, “The role of Iris is cast for coloratura soprano, and is gloriously rendered by Jessica Lennick.” Ms. Lennick will rejoin Joseph Summer and The Shakespeare Concerts for another series of concerts and a recording in April 2017.

Neal Ferreira


NEAL FERREIRA, tenor, especially noted for his dynamic and captivating stage presence, is quickly gaining national recognition. Mr. Ferreira opened the current season with his Boston Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Hall debut as Ein Tierhändler in Der Rosenkavalier under the baton of Maestro Andris Nelsons.

He will make another company debut with Odyssey Opera in March 2017, singing the role of Jack in Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s setting of The Importance of Being Earnest. Upcoming engagements include performances with the Shakespeare Concerts this spring and Boston Lyric Opera in 2018. His 2015-16 season was highlighted by a successful return to Boston Lyric Opera as The Visitor in their production of Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony, for which the Wall Street Journal called him “poignant” and the Boston Globe lauded his “firm yet sweet tenor.” In addition to performing roles in Otello with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and The Merry Widow with Boston Lyric Opera, the tenor sang the role of Alan in Joseph Summer’s The Tenor’s Suite with the Shakespeare Concerts at Jordan Hall. In the 2014-15 season, Mr. Ferreira debuted the role of Ferdinand in the world premiere of Joseph Summer’s The Tempest with the Shakespeare Concerts. He can be heard on the original cast recording, recently released on Albany Records. He returned to Syracuse Opera as Alfred in Die Fledermaus to great acclaim and sang multiple roles with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra in Un ballo in maschera.

Thea Lobo


Hailed as “excellent”, “impeccable”, “limpidly beautiful”, “impressive”, “stunning”, and “Boston’s best”, Grammy-nominated mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo’s 2016-17 season includes performances with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bucknell Bach Festival, Halcyon Chamber Series, Sunshine City Opera, Callithumpian Consort, Sarasota Choral Society and Guerilla Opera.

She has recently appeared with fortepianist Sylvia Berry, Brandeis New Music, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Emmanuel Music, and Brookline Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Lobo has appeared under conductors Gunther Schuller, Harry Christophers, Stephen Stubbs, Joshua Rifkin, Martin Pearlman, Helmut Rilling, and Andris Nelsons, and has been featured by the Firebird Ensemble, Carmel Bach Festival, Boston Baroque, Handel + Haydn Society, The Bermuda Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, and Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart. Her dedication to new music, art song, and early music has seen her featured on True Concord’s Grammy winning recording of Stephen Paulus’s ‘Prayers & Remembrances’, invited to the Carmel Bach Festival as an Adams Fellow, a prizewinner at the Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers, a grant recipient of the Julian Autrey Song Foundation, a featured recitalist for the Boston Portuguese Festival, and performing as a soloist under the direction of composers Steve Reich, Fred Lerdahl, Christian Wolff, Louis Andriessen, and many others. Thea Lobo is a graduate of New England Conservatory and Boston University, and represented by Vocal Artists Management.

Sophie Michaux


SOPHIE MICHAUX, mezzo-soprano, was born in London and raised in the French Alps. The 28-year-old mezzo was noted as a “warm and colorful mezzo” (Opera News) and as “a study in color…Michaux’s expressive quality and variety is remarkable ” (Arts Impulse).

This season, her engagements include her Boston Early Music Festival debut in November 2016, in their their chamber operas Versailles, Alto Soloist in the Duruflé Requiem and Handel’s Messiah at Trinity Church of Boston, and her Carnegie Hall debut with the Lorelei Ensemble. On stage, her roles include the title roles in La Cenerentola (NEMPAC), in Rinaldo (Boston Opera Collaborative), for which she was nominated as Best Female Performer in an Opera for the 2015 Arts Impulse Theatre Awards, Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia (Opera Brittenica), and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lowell House Opera), Anne in To Hell and Back (Boston Opera Collaborative). In this work by Jake Heggie, her voice was noted as “a study in color…Michaux’s expressive quality and variety is remarkable ” (Arts Impulse). She is an active performer of 21st century works as well as early works: she premiered the role of Ceres in The Tempest, by Joseph Summer with The Shakespeare Concerts, and the role of Higuchi in Troubled Water, by Misha Saldkind-Pearl with Guerilla Opera. In 2010, she was a soloist at the Egida Sartori and Laura Alvini Early Music Seminar in Venice, Italy, directed by René Jacobs.

Jennifer Sgroe


JENNIFER SGROE, soprano, began her musical career in dance and musical theater before transitioning to opera. She has performed across the US in opera, concert and musical,  theatre and internationally as a soloist at festivals in Finland, England and Austria.

Recent performances include the US premiere of Jessica Rudman’s monodrama Trigger with Hartford Opera Theatre, her original recital program To the Sea with works by American composers to be repeated across New England throughout 2017, Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel – Sinfonietta Nova), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro – Arbor Opera), and Miranda (cover) for Joseph Summer’s premiere of The Tempest with The Shakespeare Concerts. In April, Ms. Sgroe reprises her performance of Jessica Rudman’s Trigger for the Women Composer’s Festival of Hartford on the program “Gendered Violence in Music” and makes her Jordan Hall debut in recital with The Shakespeare Concerts singing works by Schumann, Brahms and Summer for voice, harp and horn. In May she will present a faculty recital at New England Conservatory with works by American composers with ties to Boston and New England. Originally from New York, she resides in historic Salem, MA with her husband Matt and serves on the Voice Faculty for NEC’s Preparatory & School of Continuing Education programs and is Vocal Program Coordinator & Assistant Professor of Theatre at Dean College.

Franziska Huhn


FRANZISKA HUHN, harpist, is a vibrant musical force as a soloist, chamber musician, pedagogue and orchestral performer. Ms. Huhn has given solo recitals throughout the United States and worldwide in Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Syria, Pakistan and Germany, including performances for German Presidents Johannes Rau and Horst Koehler at Schloss Bellevue.

Ms. Huhn has been featured in recital on WGBH’s “Live from Studio 1” and as part of New England Conservatory’s First Mondays performance series. In 2007 Ms. Huhn’s recording Harp Solo was released and features both contemporary and classical works for harp. As a pedagogue Ms. Huhn holds faculty positions at New England Conservatory, Boston University, Longy School of Music of Bard College, and Wheaton College. Since 2003, Ms. Huhn has been the Assistant Director of the Harp Seminar at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute and has served on the faculty of the Connecticut Valley Harp Intensive since 2012. Ms. Huhn established herself as an artist of distinction at a very young age, earning first prize in the prestigious Jugend Musiziert Competition in Germany at the age of fourteen. She was then invited to study on a full scholarship with Lucile Lawrence at Boston University and then continued her harp studies with Ann Hobson Pilot at New England Conservatory, where she became the first ever harpist to be awarded the Artist Diploma by the Conservatory in 2005. In 2007, she received an Artist Diploma from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany.

Kevin Owen


KEVIN OWEN is a journeyman musician and educator, performing with symphony orchestras, chamber music groups, swing bands, rock bands, jazz ensembles, and in the recording studio. Principal horn of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the Boston Lyric Opera, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and the Boston Philharmonic, for 25 years he has been “first-call” horn substitute with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestra.

He has also “subbed” with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic. Owen has been featured as a soloist by the Boston Pops, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony, the Boston Philharmonic, and many other regional orchestras. He has appeared on the David Letterman and Conan O’Brien shows with the rock groups Guster and My Morning Jacket. He has toured internationally with Empire Brass, the Boston Chamber Music Society, and, recently, A Far Cry, a self-conducted, Grammy-nominated Boston chamber orchestra. He’s been in the backup band for Peter Frampton, the Moody Blues, Kansas, Frank Sinatra Jr., and many other popular artists. Owen graduated from Boston University in 1983. While there, he received the Outstanding Brass Performer Award and won the Concerto-Aria Competition. With the Boston Wind Quintet, the quintet in residence at Boston University, he won five international chamber music competitions. His teachers were Robert Hagreen, Dr. Charles Kavaloski, David Ohanian, Myron Bloom, and Jay Wadenpfuhl.

Joshua Michal


JOSHUA MICHAL, a native of Ohio, performs regularly with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. He is currently a member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and plays 2nd horn with the Lancaster Music Festival.

Dr. Michal has toured with the Boston Brass and has recently performed with the Charleston Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Brass Ensemble and the Breckenridge Music Festival. Dr. Michal can be heard on the Resound Label with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Bernard Haitink performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and on the Analekta label with L’Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne as solo horn for Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. From 2007-09, Dr. Michal was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and was actively involved in music outreach efforts within the city of Chicago through programs such as MusicCorps and the Merit School of Music. He received his degrees from Indiana University (B.M.), Northwestern University (M.M.), and The Ohio State University (D.M.A.). He completed additional studies at Bowling Green State University and the IES Institute in Vienna, Austria. His principal teachers include Rosemary Williams, Michael Hatfield, Michael Höltzel, Richard Seraphinoff, Jeff Nelsen, Volker Altmann, Gail Williams, Liz Freimuth, and Bruce Henniss. Dr. Michal joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Music in the fall of 2014.

Benjamin Pesetsky


BENJAMIN PESETSKY is an American composer of dramatic instrumental and vocal music. NOW Magazine called his opera scene Love Redux “one of the best episodes” on a program of new works staged by Tapestry Opera in Toronto and his music has also been performed by ensembles including the Albany Symphony Orchestra, The American Symphony Orchestra, and New England Conservatory’s Jordan Winds.

Recently his Piano Sonata was commissioned by Thomas Hecht and premiered on recital programs in Europe, Asia, and the United States. In 2014 the Phonochrome Collective premiered An Illusory Image, a trio for viola, cello, and piano, at the San Francisco Center for New Music.

He has been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre and the Hambidge Center and attended the Deer Valley Festival and the Vancouver International Song Institute. He has collaborated with WordSong, a presenter of new artsong in a conversational format, and was a featured composer at the Rivers School Conservatory’s Seminar on Contemporary Music for the Young. Mr. Pesetsky studied with Joan Tower, George Tsontakis, and Howard Frazin and holds degrees in composition and philosophy from Bard College Conservatory and Bard College. In addition to composing, he works as a freelance writer and critic for publications including, EMAg (Early Music America), Classical Voice North America, and The Boston Musical Intelligencer.

Tim Ribchester

Music Director & Conductor

TIM RIBCHESTER, Music Director of The Shakespeare Concerts since 2016, is recognized internationally as a versatile and inspiring musical leader and collaborator. A resident conductor of the Trentino Music Festival, Italy (Dido and Aeneas, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Rinaldo); and Assistant Conductor with North Carolina Opera (Eugene Onegin, Das Rheingold), he has also made concert debuts in the past two seasons with the Bacau Philharmonic of Romania and Sinfonietta Vidin, Bulgaria.

In Berlin he has led rehearsals with the orchestra of the Komische Oper, in Baltimore with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and in Philadelphia with the Academy of Vocal Arts and Russian Opera Workshop choruses. He served over many years as rehearsal pianist/assistant conductor for Opera Philadelphia (Romeo et Juliette), Lyric Opera Baltimore (Tosca), Baltimore Concert Opera (Carmen), and AVA (Il Tabarro, Don Giovanni, L’elisir d’amore, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Quichotte, Un ballo in maschera, Così fan tutte, La Traviata, L’italiana in Algieri). He has assisted conductors Christofer Macatsoris, Timothy Myers, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Steven White, and collaborated closely with stage directors Tito Capobianco, David Gately, Nic Muni, James Marvel, Gidon Saks, and Greg Eldridge.

Formerly Music Director of the Delaware County Symphony in Pennsylvania, Maestro Ribchester relocated to Berlin, Germany in 2015, where he has established a private vocal coaching studio and collaborative vocal training workshops with prominent directors, voice teachers, and movement coaches. His playing as guest pianist with the Kammersolisten der Deutsche Oper Berlin is featured on the soundtrack of Park Chan-Wook’s critically acclaimed feature film The Handmaiden, and on his debut CD The Russian Cello with cellist Cassia Harvey (available on Amazon).

Maestro Ribchester trained at Oxford University; the Royal College of Music, London; La schola cantorum, Paris; and the Academia Nacional del Tango, Buenos Aires. He has taught classes in music theory, history, conducting, piano, and voice at Temple University, Bryn Mawr Conservatory, and University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and at the Hochschule for Musik und Theater Hamburg, and is the official audition accompanist for Astral Artists, a Philadelphia agency for outstanding young concert soloists.


Summer’s Distillation

Music inspired by Brahms’s Four Songs for Women’s Chorus, Horns, and Harp

Then were not summer’s distillation left,

A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass…

The title of this album is misleading in one regard: Schumann’s Drei Gesänge predates Brahms’s Vier Gesänge by more than a decade. However, this is my distillation, a title I derived from Shakespeare’s Sonnet V, and thus I feel entitled to narrate from my distant perspective in time.

When I was a student at Oberlin Conservatory in the early 1970s, a coed asked me to sit in on a rehearsal of Brahms’s opus 17. She thought I might have something useful to say about her ensemble’s preparation of the work. I was unfamiliar with it. When I thought “opus 17,” what came to mind was Beethoven’s French Horn sonata, which, as a lackluster but earnest hornist, I had played often. I was shocked when I opened the Brahms score and discovered the ensemble consisted of two horns and harp. How unique and strange! I sat down in the 150 seat Kulas recital hall, alone in the audience, and listened. The opening solo horn appealed to me, but when the women’s voices entered I began to cry; and then weep. I could barely restrain myself from sobbing. I sat transfixed, a liquid prisoner of the awesome beauty of the Brahms, for the entirety of the rehearsal. When the young soprano asked me for criticism, I could offer none. I experienced the music as a transcendent epiphany. It changed the course of my life.

Theretofore I’d never written for voice. Subsequently I could but rarely compose anything lacking it. Over the ensuing years I eschewed the combination of harp and voice, in part because I felt uncomfortable with the idiomatic expectations and the audacity of assuming the right to benefit from the inherent beauty of the instrument. In addition, unlike the rest of the instruments of the orchestra, I couldn’t claim even a modicum of apprehension of how the cumbersome creature worked. Indeed, during the preparation for this concert I have learned from Franziska Huhn how little I still know about the harp. Franziska had to take me by the hand and show me how ineptly I had written for her instrument, even coercing me into my first harp lesson. All of the works of mine on this recording I have rewritten–sometimes significantly–with her assistance.

In 1995 I wrote my first two pieces for harp and voice, more than two decades after hearing the Brahms: If by Your Art, and Sonnet CIV. They were first performed in Prague, before I’d established The Shakespeare Concerts. That year, 2003, I decided I wanted to include the Brahms in the second year of the fledgling series, presuming as I did there would be a second year; and I wanted to write a work which would clearly show my indebtedness to opus 17. I wrote Sonnet CXXXIII for the ensemble of harp and horns, substituting the women’s chorus with a solo soprano and tenor. With unbecoming assumption I had decided that such a piece would perforce sneak its way into the repertoire because–in the future, perhaps posthumously (“for fear of which, hear this thou age unbred: Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead – Sonnet CIV)–when ensembles contemplated Brahms they might have to consider my contribution. I imagined a music director, hands tied by the necessities of hiring two horns and harp, thinking “what other works can we perform with horns and harp, after all, we’ve hired them already?”

Perhaps even, the additions to this recherché ensemble’s repertoire might encourage more performances of the Brahms? (That is undeniably presumptuous, I know.) Two more works of my own devising on this program continued my endeavor to insert my music next to the opus 17: the opening work, the pairing of Sonnets V and VI, a question and answer, to steal Benjamin Pesetsky’s titular conceit; and Sonnet LXXIII.  Adding an ally in my assault on the Brahms citadel, I asked Benjamin Pesetsky to compose a work for the opus 17 ensemble. He obliged with Answer and Question, a setting of Shakespeare from All’s Well that Ends Well.

Continuing the idea of permutations and variations on the Brahms opus 17 ensemble are my Sonnet XCI for two horns and tenor; and “O God, that I were a man,” my interpretation of Beatrice’s passionate call to arms from Much Ado About Nothing.

As for the Schumann, one rarely hears the Drei Gesänge performed as Schumann intended, on harp. I find it interesting that this piece utilizes the poetry of an English lord, though in German, and Brahms’s subsequent Vier Gesänge also employs translations of English texts in two of the four movements; in regards to the second movement, the words are of an English earl, Edward DeVere, the author we refer to as William Shakespeare.

(JSS 09 03 18)


By William Shakespeare

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’er-snowed and bareness every where:
Then were not summer’s distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.

By William Shakespeare

Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface,
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distilled:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty’s treasure ere it be self-killed.
That use is not forbidden usury,
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That’s for thy self to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
Ten times thy self were happier than thou art,
If ten of thine ten times refigured thee:
Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?
Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fair
To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.

By William Shakespeare

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.

By William Shakespeare

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their bodies’ force,
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill,
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure;
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ cost,
Of more delight than hawks or horses be;
And having thee, of all men’s pride I boast:
Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
All this away and me most wretched make.

By William Shakespeare

That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

By William Shakespeare

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is’t not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet’st friend must be?
Me from myself thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engrossed:
Of him, myself, and thee I am forsaken;
A torment thrice three-fold thus to be crossed.
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom’s ward,
But then my friend’s heart let my poor heart bail;
Whoe’er keeps me, let my heart be his guard;
Thou canst not then use rigour in my jail:
And yet thou wilt; for I, being pent in thee,
Perforce am thine, and all that is in me.

From The Tempest By William Shakespeare

If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to th’ welkin’s cheek,
Dashes the fire out. Oh, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer. A brave vessel
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her
Dashed all to pieces. Oh, the cry did knock
Against my very heart! Poor souls, they perished.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallowed and
The fraughting souls within her.

From Much Ado About Nothing By William Shakespeare

Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman?
O that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they come to take hands;
and then, with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour,
–O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.

Hear me, Beatrice,–

Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!

Nay, but, Beatrice,–

Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.


Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect;
a sweet gallant, surely!
O that I were a man for his sake! or that I had any friend would be a man for my sake!
But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it.
I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.

Text by Karl Julius Körner based on three of the Hebrew Melodies by George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

1. Jeptha’s Daughter

Da die Heimat, o Vater, da Gott
Von der Tochter verlanget den Tod,[Dein Gelübde den Feinden gab Schmerz
Hier entblösst ist’s, durchbohre mein Herz.]1
Und die Stimme der Klagen ist stumm,
Und mein Werk auf den Bergen ist um!
Wird die Hand, die ich liebe, mich weihn,
Kann der Tod ja nicht schmerzlich mir sein.
Und das schwör ich dir treulich und gut,
Daß so rein ist mein kindliches Blut,
Als der Segen, den strömend es fleht,
Als hienieden mein letztes Gebet!
Ob die Jungfrau Jerusalems klagt,
Sei der Richter, der Held nicht verzagt!
Der Triumph kam durch mich euch herbei,
Und mein Vater, die Heimat sind frei!
Wenn das Blut, das du gabst, ist entwallt,
Die du liebtest, die Stimme verhallt,[Sei gedenk mein]1, die Ruhm dir erwarb,
Und vergiß nicht, daß lächelnd ich starb.

Since our Country, our God — Oh, my Sire!
Demand that thy Daughter expire;
Since thy triumph was brought by thy vow —
Strike the bosom that’s bared for thee now!
And the voice of my mourning is o’er,
And the mountains behold me no more:
If the hand that I love lay me low,
There cannot be pain in the blow!
And of this, oh, my Father! be sure —
That the blood of thy child is as pure
As the blessing I beg ere it flow,
And the last thought that soothes me below.
Though the virgins of Salem lament,
Be the judge and the hero unbent!
I have won the great battle for thee,
And my Father and Country are free!
When this blood of thy giving hath gush’d,
When the voice that thou lovest is hush’d,
Let my memory still be thy pride,
And forget not I smiled as I died!

2 . Sun of the Sleepless

Schlafloser Sonne melanchol’scher Stern!
Dein tränenvoller Strahl erzittert fern,
Du offenbarst die Nacht, die dir nicht weicht –
O wie du ganz des Glücks Erinn’rung gleichst!
So glänzt auch längstvergangner Tage Licht,
Es scheint, doch wärmt sein schwaches Leuchten nicht,
Der Gram sieht wohl des Sterns Gestalt,
Scharf, aber fern, so klar, doch ach! wie kalt!

Sun of the sleepless! melancholy star!
Whose tearful beam glows tremulously far,
That show’st the darkness thou canst not dispel,
How like art thou to joy remember’d well!
So gleams the past, the light of other days,
Which shines, but warms not with its powerless rays;
A night-beam Sorrow watcheth to behold,
Distinct but distant — clear — but, oh how cold!

3. Thy Days Are Done

Dein Tag ist aus, dein Ruhm fing an,
Es preist [der Volkgesang]1
Dich Hoher auf des Sieges Bahn,
Dein Schwert im Feindesdrang,
Die Taten all, die du getan,
Jauchzt dir der Freiheit Dank!
Und ob du fielst, so lang wir frei,
Sollst du den Tod nicht sehn,
Dein Blut, [so edlich und so treu]2,
Darf nicht zur Erde gehn,
In unsern Adern fließt es neu,
Dein Geist mög’ in uns wehn![Dein Name sei dem Heer Signal,
Begiebt’s zum Kampfe sich,
Und Jungfraun klagen’s im Choral,
Daß unser Held erblich!
Die Trän’ entweihete dein Mal
Wir weinen nicht um dich.

Thy days are done, thy fame begun;
Thy country’s strains record
The triumphs of her chosen Son,
The slaughter of his sword!
The deeds he did, the fields he won,
The freedom he restored!
Though thou art fall’n, while we are free
Thou shalt not taste of death!
The generous blood that flow’d from thee
Disdain’d to sink beneath:
Within our veins its currents be,
Thy spirit on our breath!
Thy name, our charging hosts along,
Shall be the battle-word!
Thy fall, the theme of choral song
From virgin voices pour’d!
To weep would do thy glory wrong:
Thou shalt not be deplored.

Johannes Brahms

Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang (The full sound of harps rings out). Text by Friedrich Ruperti

Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang
den Lieb’ und Sehnsucht schwellen,
er dringt zum Herzen tief und bang
und läßt das Auge quellen.

O rinnet, Tränen, nur herab,
o schlage Herz, mit Beben!
Es sanken Lieb’ und Glück ins Grab,
verloren ist das Leben!

 The fulsome harp resounds,
 With love and yearning swollen;
 It penetrates the heart, deeply,
 and leaves the eyes flooded.

O tears, run down;
o strike heart, and tremble!
Sink Love and Happiness in the grave;
 Life is lost!

Lied von Shakespeare (Song from Shakespeare)
Text by August Wilhelm Schlegel, after William Shakespeare from Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene 4

Komm herbei, komm herbei, Tod,
Und versenk’ in Cypressen den Leib;
Lass mich frei, lass mich frei, Not,
Mich erschlägt ein holdseliges Weib.
Mit Rosmarin mein Leichenhemd,
O bestellt es!
Ob Lieb’ ans Herz mir tötlich kommt,
Treu’ hält es.

Keine Blum, keine Blum süß,
Sei gestreut auf den schwärzlichen Sarg;
Keine Seel’, keine Seel’ grüß
mein Gebein, wo die Erd’ es verbarg.
Um Ach und Weh zu wenden ab’,
bergt alleine
mich, wo kein Treuer wall’ ans Grab
und weine.

Come away, come away, death,
    And in sad cypress let me be laid.
Fly away, fly away, breath;
    I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
             O, prepare it!
My part of death, no one so true
         Did share it.

Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
    On my black coffin let there be strown.
Not a friend, not a friend greet
    My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown.
A thousand thousand sighs to save,
             Lay me, O, where
Sad true lover never find my grave,
             To weep there!

Text by Josef Karl Benedikt von Eichendorff

Wohin ich geh’ und schaue,
In Feld und Wald und Tal,
Vom Berg hinab in die Aue;
Viel schöne, hohe Fraue,
Grüß ich dich tausendmal.

In meinem Garten find’ ich
Viel’ Blumen schön und fein,
Viel’ Kränze wohl draus wind’ ich
Und tausend Gedanken bind’ ich
Und Grüße mit darein.

Ihr darf ich keinen reichen,
Sie ist zu hoch und schön,
Die müssen alle verbleichen,
Die Liebe nur ohnegleichen
Bleibt ewig im Herzen stehn.

Ich schein’ wohl froher Dinge
Und schaffe auf und ab,
Und, ob das Herz zerspringe,
Ich grabe fort und singe,
Und grab mir bald mein Grab.

Wherever I go journeying
in field and forest and valley,
down the mountain to the mead;
most beautiful, highest lady,
A thousand thousand times I greet you.

In my garden I find
many fine and pretty flowers;
from them many garlands I weave,
and a thousand thousand thoughts
and greetings into them I bind.

I cannot give it to her,
She being too high and beautiful,
They all must fade,
Love, unreflected, remains
Forever in the heart.

I seem to be happy.
Life goes on,
And whether the heart was breaking,
I dig and I sing.
Soon I dig my grave.

Anonymous translation of an English text by Ossian
(James MacPherson)

Wein’ an den Felsen, der brausenden Winde
weine, o Mädchen von Inistore!
Beug’ über die Wogen dein schönes Haupt,
lieblicher du als der Geist der Berge,
wenn er um Mittag in einem Sonnenstrahl
über das Schweigen von Morven fährt.

Er ist gefallen, dein Jüngling liegt darnieder,
bleich sank er unter Cuthullins Schwert.
Nimmer wird Mut deinen Liebling mehr reizen,
das Blut von Königen zu vergießen.

Trenar, der liebliche Trenar starb
O Mädchen von Inistore!
Seine grauen Hunde heulen daheim,
sie sehn seinen Geist vorüberziehn.
Sein Bogen hängt ungespannt in der Halle,
nichts regt sich auf der Haide der Rehe.

Weep on the rocks of roaring winds,
O maid of Inistore!
Bend thy fair head over the waves,
thou lovelier than the ghost of the hills,
when it moves on the sun-beam, at noon,
over the silence of Morven.

He is fallen: thy youth is low!
pale beneath the sword of Cuthullin!
No more shall valor raise thy love
to match the blood of kings.

Trenar, graceful Trenar died,
O maid of Inistore!
His gray dogs are howling at home:
they see his passing ghost.
His bow is in the hall unstrung.
No sound is in the hall of his hinds!

From All’s Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to heaven; the fated sky
Gives us free scope; only doth backward pull
Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.
What power is it which mounts my love so high,
That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?
The mightiest space in fortune nature brings
To join like likes, and kiss like native things.
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their pains in sense, and do suppose
What hath been cannot be. Who ever strove
To show her merit that did miss her love?