Fenton Songs II
I wrote Fenton Songs II in the summer of 2002 for first performances at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival of 2003. The work is dedicated to Marc Neikrug, like my first group of settings of poetry by James Fenton, it is scored for soprano with piano trio. Both groups come from Fenton's extraordinary collection Out of Danger, and while the first set concerns love, Fenton II invokes political violence; but the fourth and last of its songs is ambiguous, with its invocation of phosphorescences of fireflies of the sea. Are they explosions?
Fenton's poetry is ideal for setting as its language is simple and straightforward; but beneath its surface is a rich layered structure and complex of meanings. Nevertheless, even though the texts I have chosen are not in any sense light-weight, their transparency allows a musical setting in which the depth of their meaning can still come through directly.