Notes

This album documents the long-term collaboration between baritone Thomas Buckner and composer Bun-Ching Lam. From 1995 to 2016, Lam has composed some nine works for Buckner, with different accompanying instruments ranging from piano and harp to string quartet. The texts for the compositions are multilingual, including English, French, and German, by various poets from Shelley, Rimbaud, and Heine to the Lebanese poet Etel Adnan.

 

 

Five Songs from Cold Mountain

Commissioned by Mutable Music for Thomas Buckner, this piece is a setting of five poems attributed to Han Shan, (meaning “cold mountain”). A legendary figure who flourished in 9th-century China, little is known of Han Shan’s work, since he was a recluse living in a remote region and his poems were written on rocks in the mountain where he lived. But his poetry has influenced poets of many generations and cultures. He is particularly loved by the Japanese, and was an important figure for the American Beat Generation writers such as Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac.

 

Last Love Songs is a setting of three poems by Shelley. Written in 1995, it was the first piece I composed for Thomas Buckner which marked the beginning of our collaboration.

 

Age d’Or was written for Thomas Buckner in 2011, in celebration of his 70th birthday.

 

Ein Alter Tibetteppich was a birthday present for Gunnar Kaldewey. Mr. Buckner premiered the song on August 24, 2006.

 

Lotosträume is written for Kamala and Thomas Buckner, who have been my close friends for a long time. It is a setting of Heinrich Heine’s poem, which fittingly depicts their loving relationship. The premiere was given in Heidelberg on October 26, 2009.

 

Conversations with my Soul, commissioned by Mutable Music for Thomas Buckner, was a present for Etel Adnan, in celebration of her 91st birthday. An amazing poet, painter, and philosopher, Etel is also one of the wisest and most generous people I have ever known. I am extremely honored to have met Etel through Tom in Paris, and my friendship with them both has deeply enriched my life. I find Etel’s language very musical; I am most attracted to the non-linear narrative and the elusive quality of her poetry. I envisioned this setting of her long poem Conversations with My Soul as monodrama in seven sections. The protagonist is the baritone, in dialogue with the string quartet, which acts at times as commentator, at others providing backdrop for the narratives. — Bun-Ching Lam

 

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